Three solar technologies to look forward to!

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Solar energy has been recognised as a source, which will help us in the future. Many feel the potential status of the energy is set to remain the same for quite some time before the energy is able to sustain the rigors of the world without subsidies.

That said, the solar energy market is indeed on its way to attain growth and the technological advancements are steady. A report two months ago by TechNavio, part of the market research firm Infinity Research, projected a 15.3 per cent annual growth for the industry in the next three years.

A recent McKinsey report published highlights, saying that solar cell cost will continue to drop 10 per cent every year till 2020, by which time 400 to 600 GW of capacity would have been added globally. The dominance of silicon photovoltaics has been dampened by the emergence of solar technologies, which form an active area for research.

One of the most promising is thin films and it is said that projects in India are using it heavily already and technology is rapidly advancing in this field. Also in the works are new solar thermal technologies, plasmonic solar and all-carbon solar cells. We find out which innovations could liven up the solar sector in the near future.

Carbon Solar
Replacing silicon with carbon is a good way of making solar energy cheap and ubiquitous, but so far this feat has eluded scientists. Now researchers at Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) demonstrate two different methods to make all-carbon solar cells.

The Stanford method could lead to cheap and flexible solar panels, while the MIT method could be combined with silicon technology to make more efficient solar cells.

3D Solar

Why should solar cells remain aloof in an increasingly 3D world? MIT researchers have demonstrated that stacking them in three dimensions can help produce 20 times more power per square foot than using flat panels. 

This and other 3D designs could help solve one of the most serious drawbacks of solar electricity: requirement of a large surface area.

Thin Film

Flexible solar cells have a number of uses in daily life. Researchers at the University of California in Los Angeles have come up with a novel idea: make them flexible as well as transparent. In fact, their solar cells are transparent to visible light but absorb infra-red.

This means that you could coat anything – phones, wristwatches, cars – with this material and they continue generating electricity. Infrared radiation is present everywhere. Even at night.

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