Shining more light on solar panels

Thermal radiation readings on panels help Joshua Pearce and his research team better understand ways to improve low-concentration photovoltaic systems. Credit: Joshua Pearce, Michigan Tech

Solar panels are the beacon of renewable energy, yet they are not getting as much light as they could be. Joshua Pearce from Michigan Technological University and a team from Queen's University in Canada have found a way to get more sun to shine on the panels and crank up the output by 30 percent or more.

“We expend a lot of blood, sweat and tears to make solar panels as efficient as possible,” Pearce says. “We work so hard to get a fraction of a percent increase on the module level; double digit returns on the systems level was relatively easy.”

Such a large increase of efficiency at the system level then could greatly change how solar panels are installed, and with the economic payback, it could even mean major retrofits for existing solar farms.

“We're looking at this from a systems perspective,” Pearce says, who is an associate professor of materials science and engineering and electrical and computing engineering. He explains that the research focused on the system rather than individual panels mostly because the current set up for ground-mounted solar panel arrays is “wasting space.”

The iconic flat-faced solar panels installed in large-scale utility solar farms are spaced apart to prevent shading. As the sun shines on a photovoltaic system, sending electricity into the grid, a fair amount of that potential energy is lost as the light hits the ground between rows of panels. The solution is simple, says Pearce: Fill the space with a reflector to bounce sunlight back onto the panels and use the light-reflecting mathematical models of videogames and action movies to avoid temperature swings.

###

The work is published in Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Journal of Photovoltaics and funded by Canada's National Sciences and Engineering Research Council.

Media Contact

Joshua Pearce
pearce@mtu.edu
906-487-1466

 @michigantech

http://www.mtu.edu 

Media Contact

Joshua Pearce EurekAlert!

All latest news from the category: Power and Electrical Engineering

This topic covers issues related to energy generation, conversion, transportation and consumption and how the industry is addressing the challenge of energy efficiency in general.

innovations-report provides in-depth and informative reports and articles on subjects ranging from wind energy, fuel cell technology, solar energy, geothermal energy, petroleum, gas, nuclear engineering, alternative energy and energy efficiency to fusion, hydrogen and superconductor technologies.

Back to home

Comments (0)

Write a comment

Newest articles

Artificial Intelligence for Improved Baltic Sea Protection

Innovative Monitoring Concept for the Eckernförde Bay Receives State Funding. Artificial intelligence will help improve the monitoring of the ecological condition of the Eckernförde Bay in the future. The linking…

New findings on the immune system

Underlying mechanism for the development of T follicular helper cells deciphered. T follicular helper cells (Tfh) are essential for strong antibody-mediated reactions of our immune system during infections and vaccinations….

Spinning sustainable and functional fiber materials

The German Institutes of Textile and Fiber Research Denkendorf (DITF) have modernized and significantly expanded their melt spinning pilot plant with support from the State of Baden-Württemberg. The new facility…

Partners & Sponsors