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Solar Panel Technology in 2019: Flexible Cells and Floating Arrays

Solar panel technology is not a set-and-forget process. The technology is constantly evolving because scientists and energy researchers around the world see the future potential for solar becoming the best method for renewable energy generation.

Here’s our roundup of the best global solar panel technologies so far in 2019. Let us know on social if you’ve heard of any other new solar technologies.

Flexible Perovskite Solar Cells

flexible solar cell georgia tech

Image Credit: Rob Felt, Georgia Tech

The Georgia Institute of Technology is researching a way to make cheaper, flexible solar cells.

Here are the key details about the technology:

  • Georgia Institue of Technology’s perovskite-based solar cells are approaching the amount of energy efficiency seen in traditional silicon-based cells.
  • Researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology, University of California San Diego and Massachusetts Institute of Technology are involved in researching these perovskite-based solar cells.
  • Perovskite solar cells would be cheaper, more flexible and lighter than silicon.
  • Researchers have tested many different materials, and have found adding alkali metal to perovskite gives the best performance they have seen so far.
  • Testing has found “dead zones” in the solar cells that produce no current. Normal solar cells would normally fail if any dead zones occur, but the perovskite material was still able to function, though not at 100%.
  • The researchers are confident and optimistic that this technology will produce great results in the future while being cost effective.

“These materials promise to be very cost effective and high performing, which is pretty much what we need to make sure photovoltaic panels are deployed widely. We want to try to offset issues of climate change, so the idea is to have photovoltaic cells that are as cheap as possible.”

Juan-Pablo Correa-Baena, assistant professor in the Georgia Tech School of Materials Science and Engineering

Read this news on Science Daily.

More Solar Arrays On Water

Image Credit: Ciel & Terre International

Japan and China are leading the way with solar arrays on water. The U.S. is also adopting this technique, though at a much smaller scale.

Here are the key details about the technology:

  • Solar arrays on water can save land costs and leave valuable land for agriculture and other purposes.
  • China has possibly the largest solar array, which consists of 166,000 panels floating on a man made lake.
  • A typical floating array installation utilises pontoons tethered to the bottom of a reservoir of water.
  • Cables carry current to an inverter where energy is then converted and send to the grid.
  • More research needs to be carried out to understand the effect floating arrays could have on native wildlife, if a solar array were installed on a body of water that contained fish, for instance.
  • Researchers are keen to develop the floating array technology because of the natural cooling from the water, maintaining solar cell efficiency for longer.
  • Scientific American suggests this technology may become more mainstream in the U.S.
  • Australia’s largest floating solar array is located in Lismore.

Read this news on Scientific American.

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