Poised to play a critical role in the country’s energy crisis, solar (or radiant) energy is a sustainable, carbon-free alternative to problematic fossil fuels. And while the theories behind solar energy are not new, the technology is becoming more refined.
The biggest barrier to solar energy use is its cost. In order to make it cost-effective, solar cells must become cheaper—or provide investors with more bang for their buck by generating more power per cell. Fortunately, nanocrystal-based technologies and upgraded photovoltaic thin film are making it easier to harness the sun’s power and convert it into electricity. This is done largely through solar concentrators—which direct the sun’s extreme temperatures along a focal line. Most commonly, this harnessed heat boils water into steam—which feeds into a turbine and generates electricity.
Cutting-edge solar concentrators are increasing the energy production created by legacy silicon PV systems by transforming the energy for silicon absorption—without the need for lenses, reflective surfaces or tracking devices. These new systems are a vast improvement over legacy PV systems, since they incorporate circuit designs and other technology to improve energy production and make solar power more affordable.
The newest, most efficient solar cells tested by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory outproduce older systems by 20 percent or more. As this new generation of solar concentrators is perfected, it can be retrofitted into existing solar applications-like roofing panels and PV window coatings. In addition, the technology should soon be available for commercial applications in a variety of markets.
At Glew Engineering, we realize that solar power plays a critical role in the future of sustainable energy. The energy experts at Glew provide consulting assistance for photovoltaic research, finite element analysis, modeling services and more. Call today to schedule a consultation or inquire about our finite element modeling of stress analysis and heat transfer, together with expertise in high voltage, power, turbine control, boilers, and heat exchangers.