Thursday, January 16, 2014

On the Horizon—Solar Panels That Are More Efficient

Solar Panels That Are More Efficient
If we want to save this planet for the next generation, we must continue finding cheaper and more efficient sources of energy. Installing solar panels that take advantage of the power of sunlight is one way of creating electricity without stripping the land of vital minerals and resources. As a totally renewable source of energy, it has the potential to supply vast quantities of electricity without damaging the environment. So why are we still using fossil fuels, building hydroelectric structures and installing nuclear power plants? Well, power from those sources is cheaper, that’s why. As much as solar power is vital to our future, it is still too expensive to use on a mass scale.

Bringing Down the Cost
There are many hi-tech start-ups out there racing to find the best (and cheapest) solution to lower the costs of producing solar energy, as well as inventing new ways that the existing technology can be employed. Most of the solar cells are silicon based, but one innovative company is producing special coatings that will make the solar cells more efficient. Other solutions might be to use concentrators or mirrors that will focus more sunlight on a panel. Nanotechnology is one of the newest possibilities, because it can trap and convert a larger amount of energy than the cells that are silicon-based, but trials are still being run on nano flakes, and there is no guarantee that this technology will make its way onto the open market.

Additional Emerging Technologies
There are a myriad of new technologies being developed by hi-tech startups, including more efficient storage methods, such as converting liquids into steam with heat. There are companies working on producing solar cells more cheaply through inkjet printing. Other possibilities being developed would provide cheaper and thinner solar films as an alternative to silicon.
The list of techniques and products in the development stage is endless, but the end result will be solar energy that is inexpensive, clean and plentiful.