Years ago when solar panels first came out they were more of a novelty for rich people than they were a viable source of renewable energy. Now all that has changed with the advent of improved solar panel technologies over the years. Everywhere you travel across the world these days you will see new solar farms sprouting up because renewable solar energy is becoming a truly viable and more efficient energy source.
What is the fallout as far as all these new advances in solar panel technology and efficiency? It has created sort of a research frenzy as to who can come up with the most efficient solar panel cell. This is big because even a 1% increase in solar panel cell efficiency can mean a huge boost to the worlds renewable solar energy supply with how widespread solar panel use is in the world today.
A Very Quick Overview of How Solar Panels Work
In case you don’t know how solar panels work here is a brief synopsis of that. We are not going to take it to a level that only physicists will understand by any means. When photons (small particles of light) enter into a solar panel they are collected in what is known as photovoltaic cells.
Once these photovoltaic cells collect the energy the technology used in them forces out a free electron which then in turn creates energy flow. The initial energy is originally stored as DC electricity and then a solar inverter in the solar panel then converts it into more useful AC electricity.
The Main Obstacle That Keeps Solar Panels from Being More Efficient
What seems to be holding solar panel efficiency back? The answer is very simple; physics. The process of getting light photons to subsequently eject electrons to create energy flow seems to have its limits. But researches are gaining on it little by little and as was mentioned earlier that ‘little’ gain can be very substantial with all the solar energy use that’s in play today.
Currently the highest efficiency solar cells are up to 44% – 45% percent efficiency but there is a catch. Most of these are either based in space or extremely expensive setups that are not practical or cost effective to put into mass use. So what is a good benchmark for the efficiency of more practical and affordable solar panels? That would be a mark of around 25% efficiency and more recently it has gotten closer to 26.4% in some test solar panel models.
Who Is Investing the Time, Effort and Money into This New Solar Panel Efficiency Research?
Who exactly is investing the time and financial resources into this new solar panel efficiency research? As you might expect it’s not the oil companies. All joking aside it only makes sense for the world’s biggest players in solar panel manufacturing to undertake this role. The more efficient a manufacturer’s solar panels are the more appealing their solar panels are to perspective buyers if there subsequent manufacturing costs do not rise substantially too.
Who are these so called ‘big players’ that have seemingly improved the efficiency of simple type solar panels? One of them is Hanergy Holding Group out of Beijing, China. Their new thin-film photovoltaic cells are coming in at over 25% percent efficiency. Another big Chinese based researcher for solar panel efficiency is Trinasolar, a solar company that has branch facilities in the USA and elsewhere in the world too. Their newest IBC research solar panels are also coming in at over 25% efficiency.
An independent research lab in Europe was the researcher that topped the 26% simple solar panel efficiency barrier.
The Possibility of New Record Solar Panel Efficiencies Are There
It may not seem like much but solar panel research is making big gains and should keep doing so as long as researchers are willing to invest their time and money into it. Fighting against the laws of physics requires patience, new understanding and continuous learning. It’s something that is much easier said than done. But even with each fraction of a percentage of efficiency gain in solar panel technology it holds huge benefits for the future of renewable solar energy.