How Research Is Changing Solar Energy Yield

By Ben Hamill - July 13 2020
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How Research Is Changing Solar Energy Yield

In an industry racing toward sustainable, green, and affordable solar energy, the measure of whether that which should be achieved is actually being achieved, has always been solar panel efficiency. And that efficiency is measured in whether or not any given panel is generating as much electricity as what it’s designed for in terms of ideal capacity.

It’s a term the industry knows as solar cell efficiency, and it refers to constantly improved efficiency. And since it’s considered the number one measure by which “success” is gauged, it’s also the number one area of research whenever time and effort and money is spent on trying to figure out ways of improving the overall coverage and yield.

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Many Roads To Improvement

But the actual efficiency of each solar cell isn’t the only way to improve the energy yield of a particular solar panel. There are other ways and techniques that can be employed by which to achieve this, says Carlos Rodriguez Gallegos, who is a research fellow at the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore. As such, Gallegos and his team of fellows have been focusing on increasing the “yield” from two additional fields of focus: axis tracking and bifacial modules.

“Bifacial modules” is a concept that pretty much explains itself by way of its name. With PV cells installed on both sides of the solar panel, sunlight gets absorbed by the top-side of the panel, and the reflected “leftover” light absorbed from the bottom-side of the panel. This maximises the amount of sunlight eventually turned into sustainable solar energy.

Better Tech – More Power

But it’s the second of the two techniques, i.e. axis tracking, that’s showing an even more considerable amount of promise as the industry focuses on increased efficiency. Axis tracking basically refers to the panel following the sun as it moves, with the panel literally tilting so as to achieve maximum exposure. The technology makes use of a motorised mechanism for actioning the tilt, with some panels even with simpler and smaller “non-electronic” mechanisms.

So effective is axis tracking, that bifacial solar panels fit with axis trackers produce at least 35 per cent more energy than a single fixed solar panel would. What’s more, the cost of generating that electricity is reduced by as much as 16% to a panel in terms of yield vs. life expectancy.

In the end, what cutting-edge solar technology means for Canada as a country, is that combined, the research in present form could potentially improve the country’s solar energy yield by as much as 50 per cent.

Now that’s saying something powerful. 

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