CPV Generators: The U.S. Goverment Develops New Solar Technology
What if solar cells could soak up even more solar energy? Amonix recently unveiled the 7700 Concentrated Photovoltaic or CPV Generator, which aims to do just that. The technology, originally developed in the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), puts space-grade solar cells under an earth-bound lens. What's more, the CPV Generator is said to be the least land-intensive form of solar power in existence.
By using gallium-based, triple junction technology, the CPV solar cells are more heat resistant than traditional silicon-based cells. This is because CPV solar cells have been used in space for their robustness for quite some time now. Since these new cells are practically unaffected by high temperatures, efficiency is drastically improved because more sunlight can be concentrated on them. In fact, they were up to 41.6% more efficient in the lab. Their solar density is increased by 500 times thanks to their inexpensive Fresnel lenses. What's more, the price to produce CPV cells is competitive with the natural gas prices.
How does the new technology compare to traditional photovoltaic cells? A traditional silicon wafer used in photovoltaic panels produces approximately 2.5 watts of electricity. The same sized wafer use in a CPV cell produces more than 1,500 watts of electricity.
Although the generator is the size of an IMAX screen, it's much cheaper than comparable generators. This is in-part due to the higher efficiency of the cells, delivering more "energy per acre" than anything of its kind. This exciting new technology is probably what won the CPV cells the "2010 Research and Development 100 award" at what is commonly known as the "Oscars of Invention."
Amonix's partnership with NREL is just another step toward reaching White House goals, one of which includes lowering solar energy costs to $1 a watt, thus making America the leader in renewable energy use.