Solar is perhaps one of the best bets we have to combat global warming. Although current silica based PV technology has several drawbacks, the first being unacceptably high cost…
The photovoltaic (PV) solar industry is doing little to contain prices, in fact, they like the oil industry, they are squeezing as much profit as possible out of the market, hampering solar’s implementation due to a lop-sided savings equation with paybacks in decades instead of years.
Current photovoltaic solar technology is based on crystalline silicon, the same substance used in computer chips. Currently a world-wide shortage of solar grade silicon is keeping silicon based PV module prices high.
Crystalline silicon based cells are very expensive and energy intensive to manufacture. In fact, only recently have cells been produced with LIFETIME output efficiencies surpassing the energy it took to manufacture the cell! (Meaning most PV solar cells actually take more energy to make than they produce over their lifetime).
Thin-film technology may be the answer.
A relatively new technology aims to solve the problems of crystalline silicon based solar cells by producing cells based not on silicon but rather printed circuits and plastic.
The most promising of these technologies is nano-antennas. A thin-film technology that has a very high conversion rate, meaning more of the sun’s energy gets converted into electric power.
Most of the solar energy hitting a solar panel is converted to heat, only a small percentage is converted to electricity (12% to 15% is typical of crystalline silicon based solar panels).
Another benefit for nano-antenna based thin-film is manufacturing costs, which today is under $1 US per square foot and forecast to be even lower once in full scale production.
The bottom line:
Thin-film solar PV technology is a raising star. Certainly a technology to keep tabs on.
If you want to learn more about how alternative energy technologies and carbon mitigation and management can help your organization, we encourage you to contact the experts at Flexible Energy.