Following their debut in the 1960s, solar technologies in general and solar panels, in particular, have evolved greatly. No longer seen as futuristic, these technologies have caused a huge growth of the solar industry. This constant growth has never been more pronounced than today when solar panels are being improved with each passing second. What is the latest technology in solar panels, then? Read on to find out.
Solar Cell Tech Advances
Solar panels consist of thousands of tiny photovoltaic (PV) cells that convert sun rays into electricity. But the average PV cell can only convert about 15% of the solar energy it receives. Around 85% of sun rays are wasted in the process.
For a long time, scientists have been trying to find ways to improve the efficiency of these cells and reduce energy waste. A few universities around the world have managed to achieve this.
A group of scientists from Toronto has discovered colloidal quantum dots. These dots are extremely sensitive to light and are thus a better choice than the type of PV cells that have been used thus far. Estimates show that these cells can increase the efficiency of the panels by up to 8%.
New Materials for Solar Panels
Other researchers have devoted their time to developing new materials that will help solar panels produce more energy.
One such discovery comes from London, where a group of scientists has found a new material called gallium arsenide. They think that it can make sunlight capture three times more efficient. The cells in this material can do this because they can be chemically altered in a way current PV cells can’t.
Another material being used to produce solar panels is perovskite. This material is both quite cheap and efficient. If combined with silicone, it can boost the efficiency of solar panels by about 10%. Scientists are still experimenting with how it can be used so its full potential is realized.
New Solar Panel Shapes
Most solar panels you are used to are in the shape of a rectangle. Though manufacturers agree that this shape is the easiest to produce, they are starting to try out other shapes as well. They think that the shape can also help boost efficiency.
The shape they are experimenting with the most right now is the hexagon. Hexagonal lenses were proven to absorb light at a faster rate than others, which is why more and more producers are trying them out. Paired with new solar cell tech, these lenses are causing a real revolution in solar circles.
New Storage Tech
Up until recently, solar has been a ‘use it or lose it’ type of energy. Put simply, any energy you don’t use immediately goes back into the grid, or you lose it. However, new solar panel technologies are focusing on finding ways to store excess energy.
One such technology is molten salt technology. It uses salts to convert excess solar energy into thermal energy. That not only ensures no energy is lost, but it also decreases the cost of solar energy significantly.
Different producers are also trying to make solar panels with built-in solar batteries. Including the battery in the panels themselves would increase efficiency and decrease costs by a large margin. It would do so because the costs of having two standalone systems, one for the panels and one for the battery, would be eliminated.
The answer to the question of what is the latest technology in solar panels is, as you have read, not so simple. Scientists have been doing a lot to improve their efficiency and reduce costs, and it seems to be working. With time, this trend will surely only continue.