Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Solar Cells produce power at 6 cent per Kw/h


New Type Solar Cell Technology
Produces Electricity at 6 Euro cent per Kw/h

I have been learning a bit about solar cells which produce electricity - called photo voltic cells. There are a bunch of really new and efficient types just coming on the market now. I am sharing some of the stuff I have been wading through and simplified it a bit. I have converted the investment costs and the cost per Kw/h from US cents into Euro cent. I am sure there will be those who will disagree with some of the facts. I am NOT inventing the facts just passing on in good faith what I am learning myself.

The new solar cells.

U.S. Department of Energy announced last December a concentrator solar cell produced by Boeing-Spectrolab has recently achieved a world-record conversion efficiency of 40.7%. This discovery could mean systems with an installation cost of only €2.40 per watt, producing electricity at a cost of 6 to 7.5 Euro Cent per kilowatt/hour, making solar electricity a much more cost-effective option.

A 2 Kw system would cost €4800 to purchase, a 5Kw system would be around €12,000 to install

Most current solar cells do not concentrate sunlight but use only what the sun produces naturally, what the boffins call "one sun insolation," which achieves an efficiency of 12 – 18% at best. However, by using an optical concentrator, sunlight intensity can be increased, squeezing more electricity out of a single solar cell.

The 40.7% cell was developed using a unique structure called a multi-junction solar cell. This type of cell achieves a higher efficiency by capturing more of the solar spectrum. In a multi-junction cell, individual cells are made of layers, where each layer captures part of the sunlight passing through the cell. This allows the cell to get more energy from the sun's light.

For the past two decades researchers have tried to break the "40% efficient" barrier on solar cell devices. In the early 1980s, the US Department of Energy started work on "multi-junction gallium arsenide-based solar cells," multi-layered solar cells which converted about 16% of the sun's available energy into electricity. In 1994, the National Renewable Energy laboratory broke the 30% limit. This attracted interest from the space industry. Most satellites use multi-junction cells.


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