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New process by Stanford researches combines heat and light to double solar efficiency

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  • New process by Stanford researches combines heat and light to double solar efficiency

    http://news.stanford.edu/news/2010/a...od-080210.html
    Stanford engineers have figured out how to simultaneously use the light and heat of the sun to generate electricity in a way that could make solar power production more than twice as efficient as existing methods and potentially cheap enough to compete with oil.

    Unlike photovoltaic technology currently used in solar panels which becomes less efficient as the temperature rises the new process excels at higher temperatures.

    Called "photon enhanced thermionic emission," or PETE, the process promises to surpass the efficiency of existing photovoltaic and thermal conversion technologies.

    "This is really a conceptual breakthrough, a new energy conversion process, not just a new material or a slightly different tweak," said Nick Melosh, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering, who led the research group. "It is actually something fundamentally different about how you can harvest energy."

    And the materials needed to build a device to make the process work are cheap and easily available, meaning the power that comes from it will be affordable.
    See also: solar module retail prices over time: http://www.solarbuzz.com/Moduleprices.htm

  • #2
    Re: New process by Stanford researches combines heat and light to double solar efficiency

    Nice find! Another day, another breakthrough in Alt-E.

    I think EJ may have been a bit premature to cancel his call for an Alt-E bubble.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: New process by Stanford researches combines heat and light to double solar efficiency

      Originally posted by mfyahya View Post
      A Key part of the article

      Another advantage of the PETE system is that by using it in solar concentrators, the amount of semiconductor material needed for a device is quite small.

      "For each device, we are figuring something like a 6-inch wafer of actual material is all that is needed," Melosh said. "So the material cost in this is not really an issue for us, unlike the way it is for large solar panels of silicon."

      The cost of materials has been one of the limiting factors in the development of the solar power industry, so reducing the amount of investment capital needed to build a solar farm is a big advance.

      "The PETE process could really give the feasibility of solar power a big boost," Melosh said. "Even if we don't achieve perfect efficiency, let's say we give a 10 percent boost to the efficiency of solar conversion, going from 20 percent efficiency to 30 percent, that is still a 50 percent increase overall."

      And that is still a big enough increase that it could make solar energy competitive with oil.

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