What is solar power?
We have used the sun for thousands of years. We learnt quickly about its benefits, and it is no wonder that we eventually harnessed its power to help change the world. Solar power is the concept of turning the sun’s heat or light into energy. So for example, we convert the sun’s light into electricity, where we then use it to power our needs.
Solar Panels – What are they made of?
A solar panel is made of a series of interconnected silicon cells joined together to form a circuit. Different panels are made from slightly different components, but the main problem for all of them is efficiency. For example, panels that have a glass covering are more protected and sturdy, but it affects how the heat dissipates which thus lowers its efficiency.
What is the current efficiency?
In 2014, Panasonic recorded 25.6% for the 143.7cm-squared solar panel, with a theoretical percentage of 29%. It was a substantial recording. However, new research has led to a new record being reached.
Researchers at Kaneka Corp. published their work in Nature Energy this week, boasting about a new record of over 26%. Now, this might not seem a lot, but when you consider that the maximum is 29%, it is a big advancement in general.
Panasonic and Kaneka are members of the same Japanese government entity, NEDO. Keneka has further developed a technology promoted by NEDO, thus creating greater efficiency with their new record.
What does this mean?
Well, it is too early to even think about production at this point. The step in producing the research and obtaining such a high increase in itself is highly commendable. What Keneka hopes in the future is to further optimise the cell structure and architecture, which would allow them to reach the 29% maximum goal. They will, however, continue to work with NEDO in order to improve the technology.
By 2020, they hope to reduce the leveling costs to $0.12 per kilowatt-hour, and further by 2030. In other terms, it means that technology is advancing, and electricity costs in the future could considerably be lowered. Plummet, even. With such focus on the environment and renewable energy, there has been a huge push in advancing technologies to provide further benefits.
If you go for a drive through a few streets, you’ll see that more and more houses have now joined the solar revolution. They may have even joined on a corporate level. While solar panels are an expensive, upfront cost, the benefits of use over a long period of time outweigh the initial cost of the product.