Solar technology breakthrough sees about 4,500 watts per square footAugust 22nd, 2007
In a land abundant with sunlight (along with religious and political struggles), a remarkable new solar technology is being tested. While no specific details about how the process works were given, it is easy to compute the potential based on what has been observed.
Using something like a large brick and focusing large mirrors onto its very small surface area, scientists have been able to get roughly 10,000 times more energy from a single panel than with conventional solar technology. The scientist in the video held the brick-like device in his hand, being about 1/3rd square feet in size and about 1/2 inches thick. The solar panel arrays behind him were several square feet each. He said his brick generates about 1500 watts continuously while in use while the much larger panels behind him generate only one watt per individual component (there looks to be about 100 components per panel). He computed that a 12 km area in Israel’s Negev desert would provide enough electricity to serve one million people. It would be a much less expensive form of energy, one capable of providing 1,000 Megawatts at production costs which are far below traditional production methods. That power generation figure would account for 10% of Israel’s current power generation, nearly all of which is produced by coal.
Large mirrors are used in this production method. They do not need to be of extremely high quality and are much less costly to manufacture than traditional solar cells. They are oriented by computers designed to keep the sun’s light focused on the brick throughout the rotation of the Earth, also accounting for seasonal axis tilting. Producing about 4,500 watts per square foot of material (rough figures derived from video observations only), the bricks require approximately 1,500 square feet of sunlight focused onto its tiny footprint. The end result is a power-source which operates any time the sun is shining which, in the Negev, is almost all of the time.
Several other traditional advancements have been seen in the solar technologies. We’ve seen new doping techniques which are expected to increase solar efficiency to 61% by the year 2020. Plastic solar technologies have recently seen a similar type of doping breakthrough allowing them to exceed the 5% efficiency barrier. Plastic solar panels with efficiencies around 14% are expected within two years. Plastic solar panels, while being much less efficient, are significantly cheaper to manufacture and, provided the square footage is available, can be much cheaper to employ per watt. Current high-end (expensive) solar technologies hid the mid-40% efficiency ranges, and the more mainstream are just under 30%.
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