Solar Cells
Developments could make solar cells much less expensive. Image: Flickr / dalcapitano / CC-BY

Renewable energy has always run into roadblocks because it is more expensive than fossil fuels. Researchers have now created a solar cell that is efficient enough to be financially competitive with fossil fuels.

Solar cells harvest waste heat

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has created a solar cell that is significantly more efficient than previously developed solar cells. The plastic semiconductors capture waste heat from photovoltaic cells. This method of harvesting waste heat increases the theoretical efficiency of a solar cell from 31 percent (the current limit of commercial cells) to 66 percent. This efficiency reduces the cost of the solar cells by creating more power in the same cells.

Balancing renewable energy

The cost of renewable energy has always been of great concern for individuals trying to get solar power to be more widely adopted. Solar cells can be very expensive, and the relatively low efficiency has made them even more expensive. Homeowners who install solar cell systems on their homes can expect to earn the cost back over 15 to 25 years. On a larger scale, power companies can install solar power with government subsidies, but they are often prohibitively expensive.

A question of trade policy

With the newly efficient solar cells, solar power would theoretically be less expensive than fossil fuels. The theory, however, may never cross into reality. In October, the U.S. government started considering a request to impose a tariff on Chinese solar cells and parts. The tariffs were requested because the U.S. government believes that China’s subsidies of solar panels and solar equipment are unfair in the world trade market. China has shot back, saying that the United States also subsidizes solar development. No matter what the conclusion is, the trade disputes will make solar development and implementation slower and more expensive.

Sources

TG Daily: http://www.tgdaily.com/sustainability-features/60289-solar-cell-could-be-cheaper-than-fossil-fuel
PC World: http://www.pcworld.com/article/246690/solar_energy_reaches_a_new_efficiency_record.html
MIT Tech Review: http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/39330/?p1=MstRcnt
The Register: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/12/19/pentacen_quantum_solar_cells/
National Geographic: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2010/11/101105-cost-of-solar-energy

Post By bryanh (1,420 Posts)

Connect

Do you have a fantastic idea related to this article, but just don't have the money you need to start your own company or side-business? Get the loans you need from https://personalmoneynetwork.com to help get your new company underway, from the small loan professionals at PersonalMoneyNetwork.

PG&E to pay $70 million for pipeline tragedy

PG&E to pay $70 million for pipeline tragedy

Pacific Gas and Electric Co., a northern California utility, has agreed to pay $70 million to the California town of San Bruno for a pipeline explosion that killed eight people in 2010. Company says it’s remorseful The San Francisco-based power company’s president, Chris Johns, released a statement Monday, saying PG&E is sorry and eager to […]

Judge stabbed and deputy shot in Washington courthouse

Grays Harbor County Courthouse

Following a standoff in a Washington state county courtroom Friday, a man reportedly escaped after shooting a sheriff’s deputy in the shoulder and stabbing a judge in the neck. The man is still at large. Treachery among the tree farms The incident occurred Friday afternoon in the western Washington town of Montesano, which bills itself […]

Microraptor was one flashy little dinosaur

Microraptor fossil

A team of Chinese and American scientists have found that Microraptor, a small four winged dinosaur that went extinct about 130 million years ago, was likely black and almost certainly had glossy, iridescent feathers. Until now, the coloring of extinct creatures was a matter of pure speculation. That may no longer be the case. The […]

Autocorrected message leads to school lockdown

Homage to the Sun

Adjacent schools in Georgia were locked down for two hours Wednesday after a text message reportedly warned of a “gunman” on campus. Later, it was learned that the message was the result of a smartphone autocorrect function, attempting to “fix” the misspelled slang word “gunna.” A series of mixups A series of mixups led to […]