My Belgian friend Qat recently wrote on his blog an interesting article on the forthcoming generation of photovoltaïc captors.
These new solar technology is due to have a yield of 40 percent, a huge improvement as the current ones have a yield of “only” 17 percent.
This news was originally reported by the magazine of a Norwegian university. I will go here more in depth as this will certainly make solar PV more interesting as it is nowadays.
Contrary to the solar thermal, solar PV creates no heat but convert sun rays to electricity. This technology has been used for fifty years and is becoming more and more common as its yield increase and the price drops.
The article reports some figures that are worth to be mentioned :
“Theoretically, we might reach efficiencies of 60 per cent or higher. In practice we hope for 40 per cent efficiency at the start. Even at that level, the energy efficiency will be 2 to 3 times higher than today’s solar cells”,Worren says.
NTNU is the only institution in Norway where this kind of research is conducted. Worldwide, just a few groups are working on this new type of solar cell; otherwise, interest in the field has been limited.Worren says fossil fuels are to blame.
“I am convinced that a new generation of solar cells would have been available already, if not for cheap fossil energy”, she says
Gemini continues and gives some insight on the market of the PV technology :
On a worldwide basis, the installation of new solar cell plants (measured as the amount of energy produced) increased by 63 per cent from 2003 to 2004, with much of the increase due to political involvement.
It is estimated that by 2010, the number of solar cell plants will have tripled compared to 2004. In Norway, solar cells are mainly used for mountain cottages and lighthouses, where it can be difficult to connect to the power grid.
“If we could cover 0.3 per cent of Norway’s land area with solar cell plants, we could produce 120 terawatt hours, which corresponds to our entire electricity consumption in 2002”, Worren says.
“That means that it is physically possible to handle Norway’s total energy consumption with power from solar cells, but that is neither necessary nor desirable.
One alternative could be to produce just one per cent of Norway’s electricity consumption using solar cells. That would correspond to a solar cell area of some 90,000 roofs, each measuring 100 square metres”, she says.
This is indeed good news as when PV technology will have reached such a yield in an industrial scale, it will be a lot more interesting as it is nowadays and would have the potential to be more widespread.
Now remains the question of filling in the blank as this technology only works by daylight. Thermal plants are required and as those are not necessarily the cleanest solution, one can ask how this problem could be solved. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) could become the solution with time.
GEMINI is published by the SINTEF Group (The Foundation for Industrial and Scientific Research) and NTNU (Norwegian University of Science and Technology) in Trondheim, Norway.