Gallery: NREL’s New Optical Furnace ‘Bakes’ More Efficient Solar Cells ...


There are many new technologies being developed to create cheaper, more efficient solar panels – however researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory just announced that they have found a way to create more efficient photovoltaic cells using 50% less energy. The technique hinges upon a new optical furnace that uses intense light instead of a conventional furnace to heat silicon to make solar cells. The new furnace utilizes “highly reflective and heat-resistant ceramics to ensure that the light is absorbed only by a silicon wafer, not by the walls inside the furnace.”

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  1. CTMaloney December 26, 2014 at 7:36 am

    When will it come to India, world’s 3rd largest polluter and in no hurry to reform?

  2. tahrey March 12, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Well ok probably knocking off 25-30% once you include installation costs, wiring and controllers. But that could still swing the balance in their favour. 8-9 year ROI instead of 12, for example. That would make me sit up and take notice…

  3. tahrey March 12, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Cells that are about 25% more efficient, needing less area for the same wattage, for about 75% of the cost per square metre of current ones… (at a guess)

    So about 60% cost-per-watt of current models, overall? Yes please. Currently available cells are just too inefficient on a cost-benefit basis, the payback period is a rather significant chunk of their overall projected lifetime (making a long-term high interest savings account a competitive place to sink your money vs solar panels) and an even bigger one vs how long most people spend at the same address. Knock 40% off that turnaround time – and off the initial investment hit – and they suddenly become a much more attractive proposition for a greater proportion of the population.

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