JUL 15

25% Efficiency Boost from See-Through Solar Cells

Written by on July 15, 2006


The direct conversion of sunlight to electricity is looking to become economically competitive with traditional burning-hot-stuff electricity within the next ten or fifteen years.  Every time something happens to shorten that period of time, we do a little dance here at EcoGeek.  No, we aren’t going to tell you about the dance…we’re going to tell you about Holographic Solar photovoltaics.  

It’s actually kinda difficult to get a photovoltaic cell to absorb a wide wavelength of light.  While some work is being done to increase the spectrum of light PVs can absorb (even into the infrared range) Prism Solar Technologies is splitting sunlight and concentrating specific wavelengths onto a variety of cells designed to collect those specific wavelengths.  

In their most recent trial, the holographic concentrators boosted the efficiency per square inch of photo-cell by 25%.  Excellent because the concentrators are cheaper than the silicon solar cells, and also because they’re less environmentally costly to create.  If the cost of the concetrators drops enough, we could see economicall competitive solar panels (that you can see through most of) even sooner.) 

Via TreeHugger



3 Responses to “25% Efficiency Boost from See-Through Solar Cells”

  1. Mickey Stone says:

    RE:25% -From the TreeHugger site. BOOST.
    I’m not entirely certain if it’s what they mean, based on the news item on their website, but I think the 25% power output increase means that using the holographic material, they got 25% more power out of a given amount of solar cells than they would have otherwise. So, solar cells that would yield 100 Watts (W) of power before would yield 125 W of power afterwards. Solar panels cost in the neighborhood of $5/W right now, so a 100 W panel costs about $500.

    If you count the $0.12/W cost for the holographic material before you count the power it adds, then you have a $512 panel [100*($5+$0.12)] that gives 125 W, for a cost of about $4.10/W which is a very nice 18% savings in $/W. Looking at Prism Solar Technologies’ website, it seems that their panels use a lot more glass for a given amount of PV material than conventional panels do, however. Though the glass used in solar panels is a substantially smaller fraction of the $/W cost of a panel than the solar cells (not that I have numbers about, unfortunately), this still means that the actual $/W savings with this generation of Prism Solar Technologies’ technology is going to be less than 18%. Any $/W savings for solar whatsoever is good news to me, though.

  2. Dan says:

    Prism Solar
    Very attractive, yes.

    For more “practical” less attractive solutions, using a similar “split the wave and specialize” strategy can be used via a solar concentrator hitting a prism.

    That’s being put out in various Master’s papers now. If you do that, you can probably see “standard ugly solar concentrators” hit 70-80% efficiency. At that rate, you can *actually power your house on it* if you have a couple on the roof; and the cost isn’t any more than this solution. : D

    Very exciting.

  3. Celia says:

    It’s so subtle, one can use it in a garden