Suramya's Blog : Welcome to my crazy life…

August 20, 2020

Transparent Solar Panels hit Record 8.1% Efficiency

Filed under: Emerging Tech,My Thoughts,Techie Stuff — Suramya @ 5:24 PM

Solar panels for electricity are awesome, however the major issue with deploying solar panels is that you need a lot of space for them. Although the efficiency of the panels has been going up reducing the space requirements but its still a non-trivial amount of space to generate enough power to be useful to power a house, Portable solar panels are well and good but they are slow and expensive. I tried to figure out a way to power my apartment via solar power but it wasn’t possible without having panels setup on the apartment roof.

Which is where the Transparent Solar panels come into play as they allow you to replace your existing windows for solar panel which would make them ideal for Apartments & office buildings. Because you don’t need extra space for the panels and just need to replace the windows. The transparent solar panels were created in 2014 by researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) however the efficiency of the panels was quite low compared to the traditional panels making it less productive and more expensive than the traditional panels so since then the race has been on to make the panels more efficient.

The researches from University of Michigan have made a significant break through in the manufacturing of color-neutral, transparent solar cells achieving 8.1% efficiency by using a carbon-based design rather than conventional silicon. The created cells do have a slight greenish tinge like sunglasses but for the most part appear to be usable as a window pane. More details are available in their release here.

The new material is a combination of organic molecules engineered to be transparent in the visible and absorbing in the near infrared, an invisible part of the spectrum that accounts for much of the energy in sunlight. In addition, the researchers developed optical coatings to boost both power generated from infrared light and transparency in the visible range—two qualities that are usually in competition with one another.

The color-neutral version of the device was made with an indium tin oxide electrode. A silver electrode improved the efficiency to 10.8%, with 45.8% transparency. However, that version’s slightly greenish tint may not be acceptable in some window applications.

Transparent solar cells are measured by their light utilization efficiency, which describes how much energy from the light hitting the window is available either as electricity or as transmitted light on the interior side. Previous transparent solar cells have light utilization efficiencies of roughly 2-3%, but the indium tin oxide cell is rated at 3.5% and the silver version has a light utilization efficiency of 5%.

The researchers are still working on improving the efficiency further and I am looking forward to the new breakthroughs in the field. Hopefully soon we will have panels efficient enough that I will be able to replace my apartment’s windows with Solar panel and break even in a reasonable amount of time. 🙂

Source: Slashdot.org

– Suramya

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