From: Andy Soos, ENN
Published August 12, 2010 03:31 PM

How to Make the Most of Solar Power

A solar panel (photovoltaic module or photovoltaic panel) is a packaged interconnected assembly of solar cells, also known as photovoltaic cells. The solar panel is used as a component in a larger photovoltaic system to offer electricity for commercial and residential applications. There are many methods available to try to increase their output. There is now a new entrant to the realm of solar panel accessories that is said to increase panel performance while decreasing costs. Joining solar trackers and microinverters is a new polymer film called FUSION by Genie Lens Technologies.


First and foremost with solar panels, one must have the sun available.  Assuming that the sun is available one must consider potential shading issues, angle of the panel in relationship to the sun (dependent on the latitude of the location), and keeping it clean.

New designs of modules include concentrator design in which the light is concentrated by an array of lenses or mirrors onto an array of small cells. This allows the use of cells with a very high cost per unit area (such as gallium arsenide) in a cost competitive way.

Depending on construction, the photovoltaic can cover a range of frequencies of light and can produce electricity from them, but sometimes cannot cover the entire solar spectrum (such as ultraviolet, infrared and low or diffused light). As a result sunlight  energy is wasted because it cannot be used. Ideally a solar cell needs to be illuminated with a single or limited wavelength for maximum collection efficiency.

As a result another possible design concept is to split the light into different wavelength ranges and direct the beams onto different cells tuned to the appropriate wavelength ranges.

Another way to increase sun power collection is to use a solar tracker.  These are devices that move with sun position so as to maximize what can be collected.  

The new FUSION film, embossed with microstructures that bend sunlight, may be installed like a sticker on panels already in use, improving by up to 10 percent the amount of sunlight that solar panels convert into electricity.  What it does is another variation of concentrating sun light.

According to the manufacturer, the polymer film does three things to improve solar panel performance:

* Prevents sunlight from reflecting off the panel’s surface.

* Traps light inside the semiconductor materials within each solar cell that absorb light and convert it to electric current.

* Redirects incoming light so that it travels along the surface of the panel rather than passing through, increasing the chances that it will be absorbed.

There do remain questions about the durability and long term performance of the new polymer film.

At present solar panels are approaching 20% in their conversion ratios.  Solar technology is new and long term economical working solutions are still being developed.

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