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BREAKTHROUGH RESEARCH IN SOLAR PANEL TECHNOLOGY
Researchers are busy exploring the unknown world of solar energy and it’s potential. With the limited amount of work done, many homeowners are turning to solar panels as the main generator of energy. Using solar panels the world was able to unlock the power of energy given off by the sun a never ending, renewable source of energy.
When light strikes the surface of any semiconductor, electricity is generated by the triggered flow of released electrons. This property is the basis of solar panels. The surface of the panels is coated with semiconductors which are capable of converting the generated direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC). AC current generated is similar to the electricity supplied by utility power companies.
There are (in general) two main types of solar power generating grid systems – stand alone and grid connected systems. The former are individual units which generate sufficient energy for immediate use. These can be stored in batteries for later use. Grid connected systems, on the other hand, are linked to a commercial power infrastructure. These are used to power schools, homes and commercial set ups. The generated electricity during the day is consumed to power appliances and the surplus is sometimes sold to utility companies. In special cases when insufficient energy is generated (on cloudy days), energy is bought from utility companies. The level of electricity consumed is recorded real time using monitors. Standalone systems are best used in remote locations where conventional power supply is non-existent.
One researcher at MIT has developed a system that can capture the incident beams more efficiently than conventional panels. Marc Baldo has developed a unique glass surface which he coats with a layer of mildly fluorescent dyes. This glass piece behaves as a novel solar concentrator by capturing light more efficiently than silicon devices. The price of manufacturing of silicon units is higher as compared to indigenous dyes glass. These concentrators made of curved lens may be harder to install as compared to flat panels.
The paint used is a mixture of conventional dye paints and natural light
emitting diodes. The shelf life of these dyes goes well into years.
A prototype developed by this professor of Electrical engineering is what he calls a ‘tandem solar module’, where there are two separate types of cells used and these absorb higher energy from the sun as compared to the conventional panels. The glass concentrates Ultraviolet radiation as opposed to the visible and IR spectrum.
Another research finding that is attracting interest the potential conversion of solar energy into liquid energy. A group of researchers from Harvard have been successful in converting solar energy into fuel. The study published in PNAS showed the successful conversion of solar energy into hydrogen. The generated hydrogen can be stored for future use in batteries. This research opened the door for alternative energy sources. The proof of concept comes from the bacterial disassociation of water to hydrogen and oxygen when exposed to sunlight. The stored hydrogen acts as a reserve energy source.
To know more on installing solar panels, consult us at Home Energy Systems.
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