Solar power has the potential to become a staple power source in our near future. Over recent years solar energy has had a tough time competing with many naysayers in other industries such as oil and natural gas. While the technology is sound, solar power has had a lot of competition in generating electricity at low cost. Solar power nevertheless is continuing to grow and be integrated into a wide scope of industries. As the technology continues to get more efficient, solar panels will begin to flood other markets. Small to Medium scale operations will be able to justify the start-up cost, and seek a quicker return on their investment.
When many talk about increasing the efficiency of solar technology they are quick to jump to new materials, and ways of storing the energy. What not everyone has concentrated on is how to better collect that energy from the sun. A solar panel, to this day, is a 2 dimensional rectangular structure. A solar panels ability to capture sunlight depends on the angle it is facing to the sun and being able to keep the sun shining on its surface. Higher tech panels have tracking systems installed on them so they can follow the sun throughout the day. These can be expensive and impractical in some cases. One company, however, is now looking at re-designing the structure altogether.
New Panel Design
As stated above typical panels sit at an angle to capture sunlight. A company named V3 Solar is looking at solar panel design in a whole new light (pun intended). What they are proposing is a new solar device (as it’s no longer a panel) built to capture the incident light from the sun at all times of the day and with better efficiency. Their new solar device is shaped conically and looks much like a large siren. With this new rounded 3 dimensional design V3’s design claims to be 20% more efficient than standard panels.
Another improvement they have implemented is having the device rotate in place. This will allow the device to operate at a lower temperature. You might think that the hotter a panel gets the more energy it will be able to generate. While you want to have the panel collecting as much UV light (heat) as possible, if it that light isn’t being converted into electricity then it’s useless. Much of the incident light on panels either gets reflected off as heat or is wasted in the process of converting it into electricity. Keeping the photovoltaic cells cooled off will allow them to operate at peak efficiency for longer durations of time. This improvement on solar design is the talking point for V3’s new product.
If V3 is able to re-produce this product on a wide scale they will be able to make solar power a major contender in the energy sector. The company claims to have been able generate electricity with this device at 8 cents per kWh. That cost on a large scale is very competitive, and could stand up solar technology as a leading competitor in the price for power generation.
This article was written by Nick Quinlan. Nick is a graduate from UCF in Orlando, FL and got his degree in electrical engineering. Since graduation, Nick has been working as an electrical engineer and also contributing content to Bob Heinmiller Solar – and Orlando based solar panel company. If you would like to read more of his work you can visit his Google+ page.