Solar energy is one of the most promising options we have in the long term. However, solar panels still have a lot to evolve. Small changes make them increasingly efficient and above all comfortable to install. For example, a new method allows extend the useful life of transparent solar panels up to 30 years.
Engineers from the University of Michigan in collaboration with other institutions have created a new transparent solar panel with longer lifespan than all the previous ones. Transparent solar panels are especially of interest since we could use them for example as windows and thus get more energy without sacrificing space.
The problem (at least one of them) with transparent solar panels is that its efficiency is rapidly reduced over time. In experiments by these researchers, they discovered that a “normal” transparent solar panel loses at least 40% of its efficiency after 12 weeks exposed to the Sun. This is a lot if we also take into account that transparent solar panels have a much lower efficiency than conventional ones. traditional.
40% transparency, 80% of its efficiency
After analyzing the degradation of the solar panel exposed to the sun, the engineers were able to come up with ideas to improve the design. The solution this team has found is apply a layer of zinc oxide to the sun-facing side of the glass. With this, they better block the ultraviolet light and thus protect the panel. Of course, they also had to add other extra materials to protect the cell itself from zinc and the decomposition that it can cause.
The result is a solar panel with 40% transparency, still far from almost 100% of a traditional window, but they say they can improve it to 60% transparency in the future. Although the transparency may be low at the moment, the good thing about this panel is that it greatly improves its useful life. Promise 80% of its efficiency after 30 years of use.
30 years of use is a lot for a solar panel, and this also makes it more interesting to raise it for long-term projects. For example, it would be reasonable to raise windows made of this material knowing that they will be useful for at least three decades. Researchers now dream of a future where an entire building has these types of windows and becomes self-sufficient. Of course, for this they will have to considerably reduce production costs and promise greater transparency.
In the meantime, traditional panels they seek to break again and again the record of efficiency, the greatest enemy of all. Sometimes extra processes are added to improve this efficiency, such as making the panels “perspire”.
Vía | ScienceDaily
More information | University of Michigan