Please turn on javascript in your browser to play chess.
Science Forum

Science Forum

  1. 07 Aug '14 21:18
    Yet another advance in solar energy that should make solar panels and so solar energy even more cost effective.

    http://phys.org/news/2014-08-stacking-solar-cells-method-electricity.html
    "...Stacking solar cells method could be electricity gain

    Is there a way to stack solar cells and convert more of the energy in sunlight into electricity? Not only has a company developed a method, but, as a headline said Wednesday in MIT Technology Review, the approach could make solar as cheap as natural gas. The idea involves stacking different semiconducting materials that collect different frequencies of light. This is of note because the company can stack several different combinations, resulting in a solar panel that can capture more energy from sunlight.

    The manufacturing technique was discussed by Kevin Bullis in MIT Technology Review. The Durham, North Carolina-based company Semprius has a technique that performs the stacking quickly and inexpensively. Bullis said the method would be opening the door to efficiencies as high as 50 percent, whereas conventional solar cells convert less than 25 percent of the sunlight's energy into electricity.

    The company also has a proprietary way to electrically connect cells and a new type of glue to hold the cells together. Earlier this year, Semprius made news with the announcement of its newly created four-junction stacked CPV solar cell which "brings the industry one step closer to the oft-stated goal of a solar cell with a 50% conversion efficiency," reported CleanTechnica. The company release, issued in April this year, was headlined, "Semprius Demonstrates Proprietary Four-Junction, Four-Terminal Stacked Solar Cell Reaching a World-Class Efficiency Level of 43.9 Percent."

    According to Semprius in its release, "By using four junctions, the stacked cell is able to capture light across a broader portion of the solar spectrum and therefore achieve efficiencies much higher than conventional silicon and thin-film single-junction solar cells. Initial trials yielded solar cells with measured efficiencies up to 43.9 percent. This process is capable of achieving solar cell efficiencies greater than 50 percent in the near future."

    Bullis said that Semprius demonstrated cells made of three semiconductor materials stacked on top of a fourth solar cell that would not have been compatible otherwise. He wrote, "The conventional way to stack semiconductors is to grow layers on top of each other. But not all semiconductors can be combined this way, because their crystalline structure doesn't allow it."

    As for costs, with economies of scale, at a scale of 80 to 100 megawatts a year of manufacturing capacity, a cell with 50 percent efficiency would make it possible to reach costs of less than five cents per kilowatt-hour, according to Scott Burroughs, the vice president of technology at Semprius. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that new natural-gas power plants will produce electricity at 6.4 cents per kilowatt-hour, added MIT Technology Review.
    ..."

    So perhaps it will not be long now before solar power works out to be universally cheaper per kilowatt-hour than fossil fuels.
  2. Standard member Grampy Bobby
    Boston Lad
    07 Aug '14 23:35
    Originally posted by humy
    Yet another advance in solar energy that should make solar panels and so solar energy even more cost effective.

    http://phys.org/news/2014-08-stacking-solar-cells-method-electricity.html
    "...Stacking solar cells method could be electricity gain

    Is there a way to stack solar cells and convert more of the energy in sunlight into electricity? Not only has a ...[text shortened]... fore solar power works out to be universally cheaper per kilowatt-hour than fossil fuels.
    Originally posted by humy (OP)
    "Yet another advance in solar energy that should make solar panels and so solar energy even more cost effective..."

    In your judgment, humy, in which countries would this "breakthrough" cost effectiveness be realized first?
  3. 08 Aug '14 07:19 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Grampy Bobby
    Originally posted by humy (OP)
    "Yet another advance in solar energy that should make solar panels and so solar energy even more cost effective..."

    In your judgment, humy, in which countries would this "breakthrough" cost effectiveness be realized first?
    I am not sure. The company behind this development is based in the US although I guess that, assuming this manufacturing method pans out, that doesn't necessarily mean that the US would be the first to economically benefit because the economics of this is quite complex.
  4. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    08 Aug '14 08:46
    Originally posted by Grampy Bobby
    Originally posted by humy (OP)
    "Yet another advance in solar energy that should make solar panels and so solar energy even more cost effective..."

    In your judgment, humy, in which countries would this "breakthrough" cost effectiveness be realized first?
    The country with the biggest infrastructure in solar right now is Germany so they would be the most likely one to use this technology. IMHO anyway.

    The problem with Solar in the US as far as really large arrays go is infrastructure.

    The deserts of Arizona, NM, Nevada and so forth are the natural homes for solar arrays.

    The problem lies in the lack of high voltage power transport there. The big high tension wires are in the perifery of the US basically, all the big cities are scattered basically on the edges of the US with some exceptions of course.

    In order for really large arrays to be used in the desert you have to have high tension lines AT THE SOURCE to get that power to the big cites on the edges of the US, Chicago, NYC, Philly, LA, and so forth.

    The problem THERE is the cost of the lines will run AT LEAST into hundreds of billions of dollars, maybe a trillion dollars, those lines are not cheap and the ones we have were built over a period of a hundred years.

    We would basically have to start from scratch in the desert and build the whole thing NOW in one lump to get gigawatts out of the desert.

    That seems to be a political problem and the government is unwilling to part with that much money, instead wanting it for wars and such.