I’s natural that solar panels should get better and better, just like any other form of technology, especially one that is of relative recent development. But to hear of an improvement in solar panels that is unlike any breakthrough so far is clearly set to raise some eyebrows among buyers and investors.
The breakthrough comes from chemical engineer Patrick Pinhero at the University of Missouri, who claims his solar panels are way better than those on the market now: up to 95% efficiency.
To be more explicit, the best job existing photovoltaic panels (PV) can do right now is a 20% rate of collecting the sunlight.
Pinhero started from the premise that the sunlight spectrum is a lot wider, including the near-infrared region of it. So he created a device which incorporates a sheet of small antennas, whose sole purpose is to harvest as much solar energy as possible. The technology already found its application in the industrial field, where it can take in the heat and give out electricity.
While this improvement is definitely good news, its implications are more complex. Unsettling questions appear for the owners of rooftop solar panels: does this mean that what they have is no good anymore? Does this mean they have to put more money into them already, while perhaps still having to cover for the financing of the previous installation?
This is not sorted out yet, but so far it seems Pinhero’s technology “complements conventional PV solar panels” rather than starting something new from scratch. We will know for sure in the next five years, while Pinhero is also searching for funding the project. So don’t jump out of your seat yet, it may actually prove to be a blessing!
[via Fast Company]