If you use a computer at home or work, you’ve come to understand that periodic software and hardware updates are routine. That’s because the technology is constantly improving and the same holds true for solar panel systems.
So, what’s on the horizon in solar panel development? Here are a few technological advances that promise to make solar energy even more efficient and affordable in the future.
Emerging Solar Panel Technologies
Solar power is the fastest growing energy source in the country. What made this possible are the technological improvements in solar panel efficiency over the past 10 years. Now, a solar panel system can easily power your home or business with extra to spare.
Current solar panels are approximately 17%-19% efficient and use primarily silicon as an electric conductor. Although it may appear solar panels aren’t very efficient, it’s output is actually quite significant considering what it’s able to power.
However, using silicon alone as an electric conductor has its limits. The maximum theoretical efficiency expected to be gained is 30%. This is known as the Shockley-Queisser limit and is the milestone all solar technologies are striving to achieve or surpass. That is why future technological advancements are focusing on using other electric conducting materials in combination with silicon to achieve greater efficiency.
One of these materials, perovskite, is showing the most promise. Perovskite is a calcium titanium oxide mineral that contains a crystalline structure able to absorb sunlight on a different wavelength than silicon. It is lightweight, flexible and able to be manufactured in thin films or even painted onto surfaces. When used in combination with silicon, the efficiency of a solar cell greatly increases. In fact, according to a recent article from Popular Mechanics, a solar cell using this configuration achieved a 29.15% efficiency rating. This layering approach can also incorporate other electric conducting materials in a multi-junction configuration to drive solar panel efficiency to as high as 47% according to a recent article from the BBC.
Another way solar panel technology is improving is through better engineering. Swiss company Insolight manufactures a panel that uses hexagonal lenses to concentrate sunlight onto solar cells. Using this method has increased solar panel efficiency to 29%-30%. Engineers have also developed a bi-facial solar panel design that can capture sunlight from both sides of the panel increasing efficiency by 11%.
Another promising technology just entering the market is thin film solar cells. These are solar cells made of cadmium-telluride (CdTe), amorphous silicon, copper-indium-gallium-selenide (CIGS), and gallium-arsenide (GaAs) laid onto a thin film. They are easy to manufacture, easy to install and take up less space than current solar panel models. These types of solar cells are 21% efficient and show the most promise of being used in residential and commercial applications.
In addition to these technologies, scientists are also experimenting with beaming solar power down to earth from space, developing solar panels that can operate at night and transparent solar windows.
What Lies Ahead
Given that current solar panels can produce more than enough power for the purpose they serve, how will such technological developments shape the future?
Of course, greater efficiency and that means less space. The more efficient solar technology becomes, the less space it will require to provide the same amount of energy for your home. Having more space means home solar panel systems can be better positioned more discreetly and homes that were previously considered too shady or didn’t have good roof space will now be able to consider solar as an option.
Second, it will make home solar panel systems cheaper. This is because you won’t need as many panels to produce the same amount of power. And, because of its lower cost, even more homeowners will able to consider solar as an option.
Third, solar panels will become much thinner, allowing them to be seamlessly integrated into a building’s architecture or even into clothing without it being obvious they are present. For those who have held off installing solar for aesthetic reasons, this will no longer be an issue.
When To Buy
Some people feel that given these promising technologies, they should wait to purchase a solar panel system for their home or business. However, if you wait until the technology improves, you’ll be waiting a long time.
Although these solar technologies are promising, they are still in the early stages of development and widespread use will not occur for several years. Modern solar panel systems are more than capable of providing all the power you need for your home or business and operate at optimum efficiency for 25 years. Best of all, the federal government allows you to deduct 26% of the total cost of your system off your federal taxes. This may not be available in the next several years or it may be reduced.
So, the best time to purchase a solar panel system for your home or business is now. We are already at a point where it makes solid financial sense and it’s affordable. So, why wait? Call Shine today at 844-80-SHINE and let us show you how easy it is to virtually eliminate your electric bill and become energy independent with clean solar power.
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