22.Jan, MIT: 18 Times More Power. Researchers Have Developed Ultrathin Lightweight Solar Cells
Posted by Jim_Carlucci on January 26, 2023, 1:50 am
MIT: 18 Times More Power. Researchers Have Developed Ultrathin Lightweight Solar Cells
"They are one-hundredth the weight of conventional solar panels, generate 18 times more power-per-kilogram, and are made from semiconducting inks using printing processes that can be scaled in the future to large-area manufacturing."
“A typical rooftop solar installation in Massachusetts is about 8,000 watts. To generate that same amount of power, our fabric photovoltaics would only add about 20 kilograms (44 pounds) to the roof of a house,”
"We know the manufacturing process can be further streamlined by printing the releasable substrates, equivalent to the process we use to fabricate the other layers in our device. This would accelerate the translation of this technology to the market”
"This lightweight solar technology can be easily integrated into built environments with minimal installation needs."
OK, so these solar cells are highly weight efficient. But since when do we measure solar cell efficiency by weight? We measure in two ways 1) by areal efficiency, e.g. watts/m2. 2) by overall energy efficiency, ie the light energy vs electrical energy, where this is typically nowadays about 20%
So taking the figures provided in the article, these cells are said to be 100 times less heavy per unit area than conventional cells, but we're also told they generate 18 times more power per kg. In other words, in areal efficiency then this implies that they're actually five times less efficient than conventional solar cells. (The general commercial efficiency is around 20% where a 1 sq metre panel will produce e maximum of 200 watts)
Most roofs are capable of taking standard solar panels, so it's not the weight that's particularly important. It's hard enough to get 4 kw of solar power on most roofs, you'd need a roof five times as large to do this with these lightweight panels.
Now, it may be that this report has inaccurately relayed this technical information, I must say it would be difficult to claim much advance if the panels were literally five times less efficient, but I make this comment so as to put some perspective on the claims. Things like robustness, longevity etc are also issues.
Well done John for bursting that bubble. Another technofix bites the dust : ) nm