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Science Forum

  1. 01 Jun '18 19:10 / 7 edits
    https://techxplore.com/news/2018-04-solar-cells-efficiency-benchmark-commercialization.html

    "...At 15 percent efficiency and given a 20-year lifetime, researchers estimate organic solar cells could produce electricity at a cost of less than 7 cents per kilowatt-hour. In comparison, the average cost of electricity in the U.S. was 10.5 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2017...
    ...
    Organic solar cells incorporate carbon into their construction to offer several advantages over conventional "inorganic" cells. Silicon-based inorganic solar panels are costly to make—composed of thick, rigid sheets that require fixed installation points.

    But carbon-based organic solar cells could be inexpensively manufactured in rolls that are thin enough to bend and curve around structures
    ...
    Despite setting record efficiency, the team believes they can push their progress even further.

    "We can improve the light absorption to increase electric current, and minimize the energy loss to increase voltage," Che said. "Based on calculations, an 18-percent efficiency is expected in the near future for this type of multijunction device."
    ..."

    I think this is the strategy to use.
    With all else being equal, obviously, yes, the more energy efficient the solar cell the better.
    But what really counts at the end of the day isn't the energy efficient but the cost effectiveness.
    It is nice to know the cost effectiveness of the most cost effectiveness solar energy is improving all the time with incremental improvements in the technology.
    No doubt eventually organic solar cells will be developed to have 90% energy efficiency as there is nothing in the laws of thermodynamic that forbids that and there are no insurmountable barriers. It's just a question of when, not if. Then it would be MASSIVELY cost effective!
  2. Subscriber sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    03 Jun '18 14:45
    Originally posted by @humy
    https://techxplore.com/news/2018-04-solar-cells-efficiency-benchmark-commercialization.html

    "...At 15 percent efficiency and given a 20-year lifetime, researchers estimate organic solar cells could produce electricity at a cost of less than 7 cents per kilowatt-hour. In comparison, the average cost of electricity in the U.S. was 10.5 cents per kilowatt-hour ...[text shortened]... table barriers. It's just a question of when, not if. Then it would be MASSIVELY cost effective!
    Sure, if those 90% cells were somewhere around the present price of silicon cells.

    What if they cost ten times as much? Back to usefulness only to NASA and such.

    But organics are getting better year by year for sure.

    Bendable cells would make installs a lot easier too.

    I often wondered if it would be worthwhile to make movable cells, imagine cells on both sides of a simple roof, if the roof was oriented East-West where one cell produces before noon max energy and the other max energy after noon, would it be worthwhile for a mechanism to be built that allows the two to swing only up and down so they present a united front facing the sun from sunrise to sunset. Would there be enough extra energy generated to make it worthwhile? Mechanically it would be a much simpler support structure than a full tracking set, just one movement, swiveling around a hinge line near the top of the roof.

    It could even be done with tough balloon tech, just pumping up balloons to lift the structure up and releasing air to let them down.

    What do you think about that idea?