Solar Panels that Generate Power at Night
Can solar panels generate energy even when the sun is not there? In a major breakthrough, researchers at the University of California have developed a unique night solar module (NSP) that, under ideal conditions, can produce 50 W at night, a quarter of what conventional solar panels produce during the day.
In their article entitled “Night Photovoltaic Cells: Generating Electricity by Optical Coupling with Space,” scientists Tristan Deppe and Jeremy N. Munday explain that by using the night sky as a heat sink and the earth as a heat source, a photovoltaic cell can be developed that Generates energy at night. Munday explains, “A normal solar cell generates electricity by absorbing sunlight, which creates a voltage across the device and causes electricity to flow. These new devices instead emit light, and the current and voltage go in opposite directions, but they are still generating electricity. You have to use different materials, but the physics are the same. “
In other words, traditional solar panels work on the concept of a cool object (solar panel) that absorbs light from a hot object (the sun). NSPs (hot) would reverse the concept and release heat into their cool surroundings as infrared light. Munday also alleviates concerns about the panels’ power and fuel consumption by theorising that they could work around the clock and use residual energy from existing industrial processes without further challenges on the road to carbon neutrality.
Munday and his team are currently working to build practical prototypes from the theory presented in this research report, and have successfully developed one that generates a quarter of the energy produced by a traditional solar panel. With advances in technology, public support, and government investment, especially under the Biden government, nighttime solar panels for normal consumption, though this is a distant dream right now, could arrive sooner than you think! This technology is particularly useful for times and locations with low annual hours of sunshine per year, such as B. the winter season and remote locations (provided there is also installation technology effort) when energy demands (for heating, lighting, etc.) are high and supply is high and low, resulting in high costs. In addition, the device appears to be flexible and adaptable: if it is not facing the sun, it can also work during the day. It can also balance the power grid over the day-night cycle.
The solar industry saw record investments and solar park deals last year, and the current year looks promising too. NSPs still have a long way to go to compete in the marketplace with traditional solar panels in terms of quality, efficiency and cost, but the time solar panels keep working at night may not be very far.