Lagging Solar Energy Makes Every Component Critical: Part 1
As the world moves towards more green and environmentally friendly products, it’s clear that the transition is a slow one. Although wind turbines and solar cells are in use around the world, 84% of our energy still comes from fossils fuels. In addition, solar cells efficiency is quite low with the average efficiency of silicon-based solar cells sitting around 15%. Ironically, fossil fuels are used to power the factories and manufacturing companies that are producing renewable energy products such as solar cells and hydroelectric generators.
Lots of work and research is being done at companies and universities around the world to change these statistics and increase renewable energy efficiency. In September a German company set a new world record by creating a 44.7% efficient solar cell.
Organic solar cells represent an area of interest to many research groups around the globe. Research is also being done with the organic materials used to construct solar cells and renewable sources. Although advancements and progress has been made, organic cells still lag behind their silicon counterparts. Efficiency is still very low, usually less than 10%. However, the benefits of organic electronics can sometimes outweigh the low-efficiency tradeoff. Some of these advantages, which can have applications in numerous areas, are the flexibility they possess, the transparent structures that can be created, and the lightweight structure they feature.
Since solar energy is still at a low efficiency, engineers and designers take extreme care when creating systems utilizing solar energy. Every component and piece of the system is considered to provide the most optimal design for converting sunlight into electrical energy. The basic parts of a solar cell configuration consist of the solar panels, an inverter to transform DC current to AC (for most home applications), disconnect switches, power meters, and a wiring or fuse box connections. In between all these parts are wires and cables connecting each part of the system.
Along with possessing the lowest possible resistance, the wires and cables must be able to withstand the conditions of the environment. Since solar cells are mainly placed outside, they must be able to handle temperature fluctuations, UV and sunlight exposure, and resist degradation due to moisture or heat. Additionally, it’s common for cables within the system to get buried underground for safety reasons. In this case, the reliability of a cable can be an important consideration.
Check Out Part 2...