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TenKsolar's New Technology Makes Rooftop Solar Panels Shadow-Proof

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As you may already know, solar panels are great, but they have one big drawback: if as little as one shadow covers one of the cells, the entire power output slumps. Not to mention that if one of the cells themselves brakes down, the whole system crashes. To hear of such sensitivity in a technology of the future is rather disappointing, but TenKsolar can take up the challenge and solve these issues.

The Minneapolis startup company has found a way to improve the solar panels‘ performance and offer anywhere from 25% to 50% more power. The way it plans to do that is by re-arranging “the maze” – the wiring system.

RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) is a system of hard drives that keep up the performance even if some of them stop functioning. Engineers have been inspired by this model: in the new formula, the current can take other paths through the solar array to avoid hold-ups.

The new wiring system is great from two points of view: it prevents the energy from getting lost and allows for reflectors to be installed on the solar panels. The pattern solar panels are usually disposed on flat roofs is one that provides space in between, for not shadowing each other and pointed towards the sun, to capture as much light as possible. Reflectors direct more sunlight towards the array, but some cells receive less than others. So what TenKsolar’s system does now is use a 3M film to gather the extra, reflected light, reducing glare and preventing the panels from overheating.

By recovering reflected light, the system gains efficiency (remember: 50% more power from a roof) and it isn’t more expensive than what the Chinese manufacturers produce. So far, TenKsolar has raised $11 million in venture funding and is able to produce 10 to 12 MW-worth of systems per year. Still, given the fact that i’s new, banks hesitate to invest in the project, fearing the system won’t make it till the end of its warranty. So financing is though, but the company is working on it.

[via TechnologyReview]

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