Mar 2, 2011

Science Scene - Better Photovoltaics

What if solar cells could soak up even more energy?  Amonix recently unveiled the 7700 Concentrated Photovotaic (CPV), which aims to do just that.  

The technology, originally developed in the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL, our tax dollars at work), puts space-grade solar cells under an earth-bound lens.  The CPV Generator is said to be the least land-intensive form of solar power.

By using gallium-based, triple junction technology, the CPV solar cells are more heat resistant than traditional silicon-based cells.  This is because CPV solar cells have been used in space for their robustness for quite some time now.  Since these new cells are practically unaffected by high temperatures, efficiency is drastically improved because more sunlight can be concentrated on them.  What's more, the price to produce CPV cells is competitive with the natural gas prices.
How does the new technology compare to traditional photovoltaic cells?  A traditional silicon wafer used in photovoltaic panels produces approximately 2.5 watts of electricity.  The same sized wafer use in a CPV cell produces more than 1,500 watts of electricity.   
Although the generator is the size of an IMAX screen, it's much cheaper than comparable generators.  This is in-part due to the higher efficiency of the cells, delivering more "energy per acre" than anything of its kind.  This exciting new technology is probably what won the CPV cells the "2010 Research and Development 100 award" at what is commonly known as the "Oscars of Invention."
Chalk another one up for engineering and science :o)


  1. Thanks, I had never heard of the CPV cell. Great info and good to know. I did not realize a cell could generate that much power. That is very encouraging.

  2. I just had an eco-orgasm! Awesome news Ken.

  3. I have to thank you for doing so many scientific posts and giving me fuel and fodder for science lessons for Eler Beth. (She may not thank you, but I do! lol)


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