Anti-solar panels pointed at space could generate power at night

Shawn Knight

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

Researchers from the University of California, Davis, are developing solar panels that could effectively generate energy from dusk till dawn when traditional panels aren’t up to the task.

Conventional solar panels work because, compared to the sun, they’re cold. Thus, they’re able to pick off energy (sunlight) being transmitted from the sun to the Earth. When the sun goes down at night, however, they can no longer do their job. For most operations, this means falling back on energy stored in batteries or switching over to grid power.

These new nighttime, or “anti-solar panels,” essentially operate in reverse. Instead of the sun being the hot body and the Earth being the cold body, with these new panels, the Earth is the hot body and space is the cold body. By pointing the panels away from Earth, researchers propose that they could capture invisible infrared light leaving our planet and convert that into energy.

These anti-solar panels could generate about a quarter of the power that a traditional panel generates during the day, we’re told. That’s not terribly efficient, mind you, but it’s essentially free energy once you eclipse the break-even cost and it could help fill the solar gap that happens each night.

Masthead credit: Solar panel by itman_47

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mbrowne5061

TS Evangelist
I doubt you'd fill the solar gap at night, since that is usually when our highest energy usage occurs. But it would help, at least a little.
 

QuantumPhysics

TS Evangelist
I doubt you'd fill the solar gap at night, since that is usually when our highest energy usage occurs. But it would help, at least a little.

Our highest energy usage is during the day.

Only during winter nights does our energy usage exceed usage during day.

And during summer, cooling energy use far exceeds heating.
 
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Mr Majestyk

TS Evangelist
Mercury alloy - does not sound very environmentally friendly.
That doesn't necessarily follow, eg salt is is made up of two toxic elements and is perfectly harmless. It will depend on how it's made and how it can be dealt with after the EOL of the panel. But I agree it might not be a good thing.
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
I wish it was efficient (it's surely not) but I'm sure it wouldn't be economically feasible. Just another pipe dream by the pointy heads!
Heaven forbid that the pointy heads discover anything more advanced than stone knives and bearskins. 🙄 I guess if you live in a cave, that is a perfectly valid viewpoint. 🤣

Here's another pointy head discovery that has a great chance of drastically improving solar energy - https://phys.org/news/2020-02-lasers-etch-solar-energy-absorber.html
 
That doesn't necessarily follow, eg salt is is made up of two toxic elements and is perfectly harmless. It will depend on how it's made and how it can be dealt with after the EOL of the panel. But I agree it might not be a good thing.
That‘s my worry - the before and after part. Probably going to follow the „out of sight, out of mind“ principle as usual.
 

John Galt

TS Member
This seems like a solution in search of a problem. Night time "anti-solar" would need to be less expensive than storage and would likely require co-habitation with solar to avoid "land waste." Cohabitation means mechanical systems to invert the cells for night time use - adding expense and complexity.

You'd be better off using some kind of thermal storage system with focusing mirrors during the day and something like RedWave to recoup the heat energy at night - but sill you would have the land use issue. https://redwaveenergy.com/

Wait 12 years. Batteries will be about 25% of today's prices, and solar panels about 15%. Then "anti-solar" will be irrelevant.
 
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Danny101

TS Evangelist
I don't know, here's a thought. How about using solar energy to heat up water and rocks that can store heat and can continue to create steam, even at night, to spin turbines and thus generating energy...day and night? ;-p
 
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John Galt

TS Member
I don't know, here's a thought. How about using solar energy to heat up water and rocks that can store heat and can continue to create steam, even at night, to spin turbines and thus generating energy...day and night? ;-p
I assume that is a joke about the recently delivered solar farm which was obsolete and unprofitable before it came online?
 

JimboJoneson

TS Maniac
So sad to see respected sites like TechSpot and Extreme Tech repeating this garbage science. Solar panels don't produce electricity because "they're colder than the sun".
Just because the original authored dumbed down how a solar panel works to toddler level, does not mean that the solar energy is "garbage science"
 
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Dmeader

TS Rookie
Just because the original authored dumbed down how a solar panel works to toddler level, does not mean that the solar energy is "garbage science"
I never said solar energy is garbage science. Don't put words in my mouth.
Perhaps I should have said "garbage science articles".
 

JimboJoneson

TS Maniac
I never said solar energy is garbage science. Don't put words in my mouth.
Perhaps I should have said "garbage science articles".
The science topic was "solar energy", and you said "... repeating this garbage science."

I don't think I put words in your mouth; but yeah, if the way the article was written was the issue, that should have been the subject.

Not trying to be a grammar nazi, but you have to see how it can be taken literally, the way you worded it.
 
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