Invisibility cloak for solar panels

Solar panels, and more specifically photovoltaic panels, have never been very efficient. A regular one can usually obtain up to 20% of efficiency. Moreover, they don’t look very appealing. Thus, looking for solutions to obtain higher efficiencies is essential. The KIT has developed an invisibility cloak to avoid that sun rays go to parts of the panel where they can’t be used. The next image explains this issue much better.

Invisibility solar panel

Improving solar panels with an ‘invisibility’ system

It’s absolutely necessary to improve solar panels efficiency. Other improvements have also been written in this blog. Nevertheless, these developments haven’t reached the market. Then, the efficiencies of these panels are still quite bad.

The system developed by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) looks quite promising and really logic. The majority of solar panels have some metal divisions in their surface. Those divisions reduce the overall efficiency of the panel as some sun rays go there. The system proposed by the KIT tries to make an invisibility coat for those divisions. It ‘redirects’ the sun rays to a zone where the panel can make use of them.

Two different approaches have been pursued by the researchers. The first one consists of a polymer coating with optical characteristics onto the solar cell. The second one, more promising, is the represented in the image above. In this case, the coating refracts the light into the solar panel directly.

The simulations carried out by the researchers show great and promising results. With a simple measure as the second one, the efficiency of the whole panel is increased by 10%. Nevertheless, further studies and industry tests must be made to check the feasibility and efficiency of the development.

You can read more about this research in a paper published in Optica. You can find more information in KIT website.

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  1. Pingback: Invisible wires for solar cells | Building Services

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