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The Future of Portable Solar Technology – What to Expect in the Coming Years



The Future of Portable Solar Technology – What to Expect in the Coming Years

Each second, the sun pours enough energy into space to power the entire planet for more than two hours. Solar electricity is appealing since it may be used indefinitely and is easily accessible.

The greater dependence on solar is a direct result of the cost reductions brought about by technological advancements over the past two decades, and future progress promises to supplement this solar usage by bringing about even greater cost reductions and increases in the efficiency of solar panels.

So, what can we expect from portable solar technology in the coming years?

The Future of Portable Solar Technology

Tech Advancements

PV firms have made significant technological improvements, including the creation of PV cells with an efficiency of 20% and above, and hybrid cells. These innovations are gradually being made available to the general public. These innovations are becoming increasingly more accessible to the public.

Thanks to a new kind of material, next-generation solar cells no longer require the use of lead. This is a key roadblock in improving the effectiveness of this technology.

Researchers have been trying to find a way to use the perovskite material for solar cells since it was demonstrated to be functional in 2009. When used to make solar cells, this material outperforms the existing industry standard by a wide margin. Perovskite solar cells are up to 28% efficient, while the average solar panel only captures 15% to 18% of the sun’s rays.

However, there are significant barriers to commercial usage of these materials due to their instability and the presence of water-soluble lead, which poses a health risk.

A new group of scientists and engineers led by Purdue University’s assistant professor in chemical engineering, Letian Dou, have invented a sandwich-like material that doesn’t use lead and has significantly higher stability.

In a paper published in the American Chemical Society journal, the scientists wrote about how they used the material to make a key part of many electronic devices.

Postdoctoral fellow and primary author of both studies in Dou’s lab, Yao Gao, claims that these new hybrid organic-inorganic perovskite materials outperform conventional inorganic semiconductors at a lower cost. Gao added that the design technique used to create the novel material might be used as a model for creating several other hybrid materials with specific functional applications.

Future of Solar Cells

Several PV companies in the US are making almost transparent cells out of a plastic that looks like glass. These cells make PV arrays look much better, but at the moment, they are not available globally.

With clear, paper-thin technology, electricity could be made on the spot through discrete objects like windows.

About 121 GW of PV was installed around the world in 2019 – enough to meet about 3 percent of the world’s electricity needs. BloombergNFF made a conservative prediction at the beginning of 2020 that 15 countries will likely be able to join the “gigawatt club” of solar power.

IHS Markit’s Global PV demand forecast for 2020 said that the number of solar installations around the world would continue to grow by more than 10% per year into the next decade.

Current solar cells can be surpassed by a new design if it can either capture more light, convert light into electricity more efficiently, or is cheaper to produce. Therefore, any advancement in present solar cell design must reduce total prices for widespread adoption by energy providers and consumers.

To explore the first possibility, we could stick with present solar cell designs while adding hardware to increase light collection efficiency. The solar cell can be outfitted with electronics that allow it to follow the sun throughout the day. Many more photons will strike the solar cell if it is pointed directly at the sun at all times, rather than just during the midday. Designing electronics that can track the sun’s position correctly and consistently over decades without being too costly is a continuing challenge, although progress is being made in this area. Instead of using mechanical means to cause motion within the solar cell, mirrors can be used to concentrate light onto a more economically viable but physically diminutive solar cell.

Increasing solar cells’ ability to convert the sun’s rays into electricity is another way to boost their functionality. More photons can be collected by solar cells with multiple layers of light-absorbing material than by solar cells with just one. Recent laboratory tests have shown that four-layer solar cells can absorb 46% of the light energy that strikes them. While current research has not yet made it feasible to use these ultra-efficient cells commercially, it is likely that this will change in the future.

In lieu of working to increase solar cells’ efficiency, another option is to simply reduce their price. While the cost of silicon processing has decreased over decades, it continues to account for a sizeable portion of the overall expense of installing solar panels. The costs of solar panels can be reduced by adopting cells with a smaller surface area. Light energy is captured by these “thin-film solar cells,” which utilize a layer around 2 to 8 micrometers thick, or approximately 1% of what is used to build a conventional solar cell. Thin-film solar cells face the same manufacturing challenges as multi-layered cells, limiting their usefulness; nonetheless, progress is being made in this area.

All in All, the Future of Solar Seems Bright

Silicon cells are expected to continue to become more affordable and widely deployed in the near future. It is predicted that by 2050, solar power production in the US will expand by at least 700% due to these price reductions. Meanwhile, efforts will be maintained to find cheaper and more efficient solar cell designs. We may expect to see silicon alternatives in the next few years, contributing to the generation of clean, sustainable energy.

Increasing bulk production, along with new technology, has made these advancements possible and shall continue to do so.