Search This Blog

Friday, April 13, 2007

Solar update: Nano tower arrays

Georgia tech has come up with an unique 3-D structuring nano technology that allows the creation of tiny nano towers on PV panels. The critical difference seems to be that these panels (or arrays if you will) increase the surface area available for absorption of solar photons due to the 3D structure of Si at the nano level. This could give crystalline Si in solar a much needed boost (and conversely impact thin film solar) as the yields are reported to go up by about 60 times. As observed in this blog, the critical metric for PV costing is the weight of silicon per watt of generation. This technique will hopefully allow us to generate 180 A from the amount of Si used in a conventional 10 W panel that generates about 3 A per day. However there are sill a number of challenges that he georgia tech team has to face as the internal resistance of the cells is too high for commercial use as it does not build up enough voltage. However cracking this is more a question of when rather than if (imho).
To understand the economics of this, consider a drop in solar panel investment by a factor of at least 50 as more than 80 % of the investment in a solar lighting system is the PV used. So an off grid home that invests about $7000 for their power solution will get away with an investment of about $140 for the same functionality. Of course i am mixing physics with trade margins and economics and i am pretty sure that the sale price will not reflect this magnitude jump. Even a factor of 2 or 3 reduction price of PV will be a disruptive innovation with potential of changing the energy map of the world.

No comments:

Post a Comment