Hemispherical solar cells could significantly improve sunlight absorption

Alfonso Maruccia

Posts: 1,014   +301
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Why it matters: Many research teams are working to achieve new technological breakthroughs in creating more efficient and useful solar cells. A recent study by a Turkish university presents a potential solution, offering a computational analysis of an innovative type of photovoltaic cell.

Dooyoung Hah, assistant professor of electrical engineering at Abdullah Gül University, recently published a study on a novel type of solar cell designed to enhance sunlight absorption. Hah proposes a semi-spherical shaped photovoltaic cell structure, which appears to provide significantly better results in both light absorption and angular coverage.

Hah experimented with various designs for this new solar cell technology, employing 3D finite element analysis (FEA) to test their capabilities. 3D FEA is a computational technique that breaks down complex systems into different parts or finite elements, studying how these elements react to light with or without additional surface structures.

When used in conjunction with an active layer featuring hemispherical, shell-shaped bumps, the study suggests that solar cells can achieve a remarkable improvement in sunlight absorption. The proposed type of "bumped" solar cells would absorb 66 percent more transverse electric (TE)-polarized light and 36 percent more transverse magnetic (TM)-polarized light compared to a traditional, flat cell design.

Sunlight becomes polarized after reaching and being scattered through Earth's atmosphere, which means that the new design proposed by Professor Hah could theoretically provide a real improvement for solar cell technology. However, 3D FEA is a type of computer simulation that must be tested in real-life scenarios with actual material prototypes.

Regardless of the theoretical nature of the new study, Hah states that technological advancements in renewable energy have become "quite imperative" for humankind. Several efforts have been made to enhance energy conversion efficiency in solar cells, but his study focuses on potential performance improvements at the device level from an optical design perspective.

Hah has been studying photovoltaic technologies for some time, conducting different (theoretical) experiments on novel solar cell shapes over the past few years. In 2020, the researcher analyzed a similar semi-cylindrical shell-shaped layer, achieving a 52 percent improvement in the absorption of (TE)-polarized light. Two years later, Hah tried yet another solution (semi-circular and triangle-shaped bumps) to increase (TE)-polarized light absorption by 60 percent.

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Solar only exists today due to government subsidies. BILLIONS of US taxpayer dollars went to now BANKRUPT companies (I.e. Solyndra) and the only people that made out were the scumbags running the scam.
 
A dollar short and fifty years late:
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Gee, I wonder where hey came up with this idea? :confused:
 
Low cost of those solar panel systems is dependent on low manufacturing cost of chinese factories, powered by cheap, low quality coal. Western world is already energy efficient, because energy is expensive here. Still, our leaders want to make us even more green, while 90-something % of global CO2 emmisions come from countries that supply Us with cheap stuff, like China or India. It's got a name - MADNESS!
 
It's neat, but can it be mass produced at a somewhat affordable price? A solar array in my backyard sounds neat but man the price for current systems are bonkers.


The sad thing is, most of a Solar install can be DIY. People just don’t want to do the research so they turn to solar companies, who are already massively subsidized by taxpayers.
 
It's neat, but can it be mass produced at a somewhat affordable price? A solar array in my backyard sounds neat but man the price for current systems are bonkers.

The problem is there's an inflection point where you need to produce enough for economies of scale to take over and result in lower prices. But paradoxically, those same high prices keep economies of scale from taking effect. That's why Solar basically stalled in the market for literal decades, despite it being relatively old tech by the time it finally came price competitive with other forms of energy generation.

Solar only exists today due to government subsidies. BILLIONS of US taxpayer dollars went to now BANKRUPT companies (I.e. Solyndra) and the only people that made out were the scumbags running the scam.

You're missing the point. As I noted above, it takes a certain level of sustained production to drive costs down to the point for production to be affordable. That's why you see so much innovate tech die on the grapevine: There isn't enough sustained market interest (due in large part to the initial high prices) to reach the point where economies of scale take effect.

What subsidies do is essentially have government foot the bill in order for prices on the market to be low enough to generate interest, with the end goal of generating enough for those economies of scale to take over and drive down the price (at which point the subsidies can be gradually reduced).

Now obviously, since not every product is going to succeed on the market (for one reason or another), the majority of these subsidies will go to companies that ultimately go bankrupt and produce nothing. And that's perfectly OK. The point is to have government foot the bill in order to get new technologies on the market literally decades faster then they otherwise would.

Case in point: If Raegan didn't remove the subsidies for solar generation early in his presidency, we probably would have had mass adoption of solar about two decades sooner then we actually did. Instead, it took almost thirty years of sustained effort to make solar price competitive enough to compete with (and eventually supersede) other forms of energy generation.

This is ideally exactly *how* the government should be functioning: Identifying promising areas of technology and subsidizing the initial market rollout. The technologies/products that succeed ultimately generate more then enough long-term growth to largely offset the cost of subsidizing the rollout.
 
totally illegal for any non electrician to hook up solar in Australia. In no way is it DIY.
Exactly, 95% of the time it will be hooked yp to the grid so you can seel back electricity (especially with a battery reserve system) or still get electricity for when its winter and you get insufficient solar energy, no way anyone would let you diy anything touching the electrical grid
 
The sad thing is, most of a Solar install can be DIY. People just don’t want to do the research so they turn to solar companies, who are already massively subsidized by taxpayers.
In many countries screwing with your high voltage electricity is illegal if you are not certified. Most US states DIY is not illegal but connecting power to your local grid and shunting over is not something most will want to try, for the obvious reason of one screwup could easily end your life, burn down your house, ece.

There's also a lot of local ordinances on how you can install solar, how much, where it is located, ece and this changes not by state, but by township or even town. It's a PITA at times to find out what exactly is allowed and what isnt.
 
Solar only exists today due to government subsidies. BILLIONS of US taxpayer dollars went to now BANKRUPT companies (I.e. Solyndra) and the only people that made out were the scumbags running the scam.

Any relevant tech only exists today and got up and running because governments invest truckloads of money on R&D and subsidies, companies going foobar, project dead ends and scam happens... unfortunately.

Solyndra case ended up with half billion of waste, the USA gov alone invested 229 Billion USD from 1948 till 2018 just on solar R&D. Just R&D.

Source: Renewable Energy R&D Funding History: A Comparison with Funding for Nuclear Energy, Fossil Energy, Energy Efficiency, and Electric Systems R&D, Congressional Research Service, 2018.

Solyndra is just a bump in the long run for new tech in power generation.

Decades from now we may reach fusion power, and it will take a lot of us taxpayers money to get there. That's one of the reasons we pay taxes, so nations don't stagnate.

Update: Well I just realized that basically I told everything gamer2k said...

Also: Down here in Brasil gov made a TAX on solar power... Now we need to pay for sun light... 🙃
 
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Solar only exists today due to government subsidies. BILLIONS of US taxpayer dollars went to now BANKRUPT companies (I.e. Solyndra) and the only people that made out were the scumbags running the scam.
Of course you ignore that the fact that solar panels are a lot cheaper today and available without subsidies from a host of companies.

If the negative cost was spending $780 million (not billions but hey, maybe you are bad at math instead of posting in bad faith) to bankrupt companies (out of a total of $34 billion, that is a loan default rate of 4.35%, pretty normal for speculative investments) to get solar panels that are THREE times cheaper...

Worth it every single time.

BTW, that loan program was in the black to the tune of $30 million by 2015 despite the $780 million in loan losses because the other $33 billion in loans were successful and paid interest.

The government MADE money on these loans.
 
Of course you ignore that the fact that solar panels are a lot cheaper today and available without subsidies
False. In the US, you *cannot* purchase a solar array for your home in the US without being eligible for at least the federal solar tax credit subsidy. And most states offer additional, even larger subsidies on top of the federal credit. Some states (like California) have gone even beyond a subsidy, and are now mandating PV arrays on new construction.

Furthermore, there are also much larger indirect subsidies the consumer never sees. Just last year, for instance, the EPA announced it was granting $7B to various state agencies and nonprofits to expand solar access. Shortly after that, the federal government announced a further $3B loan guarantee for solar firm Sunnova -- a firm, by the way, accused repeatedly of scamming elderly people with dementia into signing six-figure PV installation agreements.

And the so-called "Inflation Reduction Act" authorizes as much as $350 Billion (yes, billion) in further sums, to be split between PV and EV expansion projects. That's a subsidy, to the tune of:

$350,000,000,000.00 dollars

Finally, let's not ignore the largest subsidy of all -- the so-called Purchase Power Agreements that force utilities to buy renewable power -- no matter the cost -- from both commercial PV generators as well as local consumers. This essentially allows most PV owners to use their utility company as a gigantic storage battery, totally free of charge.
 
This is ideally exactly *how* the government should be functioning: Identifying promising areas of technology and subsidizing the initial market rollout. The technologies/products that succeed ultimately generate more then enough long-term growth to largely offset the cost of subsidizing the rollout.

No government should NOT! It's not the job of the government to pick winner and losers through subsidies. It ends up being the buddy system of crony capitalism and I have no doubts politicians see benefits like bigger donations or other under the table benefits. It's quite sad you're for big government interference in markets. THAT IS NOT CAPITALISM! Keep government OUT of business, it's not their place!
 
Any relevant tech only exists today and got up and running because governments invest truckloads of money on R&D and subsidies, companies going foobar, project dead ends and scam happens... unfortunately.

Solyndra case ended up with half billion of waste, the USA gov alone invested 229 Billion USD from 1948 till 2018 just on solar R&D. Just R&D.

Source: Renewable Energy R&D Funding History: A Comparison with Funding for Nuclear Energy, Fossil Energy, Energy Efficiency, and Electric Systems R&D, Congressional Research Service, 2018.

Solyndra is just a bump in the long run for new tech in power generation.

Decades from now we may reach fusion power, and it will take a lot of us taxpayers money to get there. That's one of the reasons we pay taxes, so nations don't stagnate.

Update: Well I just realized that basically I told everything gamer2k said...

Also: Down here in Brasil gov made a TAX on solar power... Now we need to pay for sun light... 🙃
Another lover of a big, powerful government. You fools would pour billions of tax money into these scams and take a knee before your masters because you actually believe them. GOVERNMENTS LIE!!
 
False. In the US, you *cannot* purchase a solar array for your home in the US without being eligible for at least the federal solar tax credit subsidy. And most states offer additional, even larger subsidies on top of the federal credit. Some states (like California) have gone even beyond a subsidy, and are now mandating PV arrays on new construction.

Furthermore, there are also much larger indirect subsidies the consumer never sees. Just last year, for instance, the EPA announced it was granting $7B to various state agencies and nonprofits to expand solar access. Shortly after that, the federal government announced a further $3B loan guarantee for solar firm Sunnova -- a firm, by the way, accused repeatedly of scamming elderly people with dementia into signing six-figure PV installation agreements.

And the so-called "Inflation Reduction Act" authorizes as much as $350 Billion (yes, billion) in further sums, to be split between PV and EV expansion projects. That's a subsidy, to the tune of:

$350,000,000,000.00 dollars

Finally, let's not ignore the largest subsidy of all -- the so-called Purchase Power Agreements that force utilities to buy renewable power -- no matter the cost -- from both commercial PV generators as well as local consumers. This essentially allows most PV owners to use their utility company as a gigantic storage battery, totally free of charge.
Truth will never set free those that worship at the alter of green energy. They'd rather have us all bankrupt before using a common sense approach to energy. I'm for green energy but it MUST develop naturally under its own pace to PROVE itself as a CHEAPER and dependable source. A free market is the ONLY thing that can make that happen, not big government.
 
No government should NOT! It's not the job of the government to pick winner and losers through subsidies. It ends up being the buddy system of crony capitalism and I have no doubts politicians see benefits like bigger donations or other under the table benefits. It's quite sad you're for big government interference in markets. THAT IS NOT CAPITALISM! Keep government OUT of business, it's not their place!
Wrong, and that's why the US is continuing to fall behind the rest of the world. The government ABSOLUTELY should be helping get technologies to market faster, by subsidizing both research of promising technologies and helping to underwrite companies who have developed viable products but need funding to get it to market. This isn't "picking winners"; if anything, not helping newcomers break into the market "picks winners" by all but ensuring that established technologies and products reign supreme.
 
Truth will never set free those that worship at the alter of green energy. They'd rather have us all bankrupt before using a common sense approach to energy. I'm for green energy but it MUST develop naturally under its own pace to PROVE itself as a CHEAPER and dependable source. A free market is the ONLY thing that can make that happen, not big government.
As I noted above: Economies of scale matter. Solar in particular hasn't improved much since the 80's, yet is now cheaper then every single market alternative. It took 40 years for economies of scale to take effect where price become competitive, then superior to alternatives. Yet if we instead put forward a bit of money to subsidizing development and rollout decades ago, we would be well ahead of the game when it comes to solar, rather then watching most of the core R&D be developed and produced in China. Nevermind the cost of rollout would ultimately have been cheaper then it otherwise would have been.

"Capitalism above all else" is going to be the death of the US, as we continue to fall behind the rest of the world.
 
As I noted above: Economies of scale matter. Solar in particular hasn't improved much since the 80's, yet is now cheaper then every single market alternative. It took 40 years for economies of scale to take effect where price become competitive, then superior to alternatives. Yet if we instead put forward a bit of money to subsidizing development and rollout decades ago, we would be well ahead of the game when it comes to solar, rather then watching most of the core R&D be developed and produced in China. Nevermind the cost of rollout would ultimately have been cheaper then it otherwise would have been.

"Capitalism above all else" is going to be the death of the US, as we continue to fall behind the rest of the world.
Free market capitalism is the GREATEST system ever devised for a society. Freedom from oppressive government is the GREATEST gift to man.
 
The government ABSOLUTELY should be helping get technologies to market faster, by subsidizing both research of promising technologies and helping to underwrite companies who have developed viable products
A company with a viable product doesn't need government funding. That's the entire point: this government funding invariably flows to those firms whose products aren't viable, and thus they're unable to convince the venture capital markets they're worth investing in.

Solar is now cheaper then every single market alternative. I
I'm sorry, but this just isn't true at all. While plenty of beer-swilling journalists have claimed this, it's based on the fallacy that all kilowatt-hours are created equal. The most difficult task a power utility faces isn't generating the power, it's matching supply with demand in real time, second-by-second. Wind and solar aren't controllable: they are always either producing too little or too much -- and one is just as bad as the other.

When it's 72F outside and your solar array is producing ten times what you need to power two light bulbs and an electric toothbrush -- what is that extra power worth? And in the middle of the night when its 10 degrees below freezing, how much would you pay for even one kW-hr, as your solar array is producing zero?

Germany has found out the economic realities of this the hard way. Their push for wind and solar took them from the cheapest electricity in Europe to one of the most expensive. Every wind and solar farm they have is coupled with natural gas turbines (emitting far more CO2 than the baseline nuclear plants they replaced), and even still their grid is only able to operate by selling vast quantities of power to their neighbors when they have overages, then buying back non-renewable power when the wind doesn't blow and the sun doesn't shine. A nice strategy -- but one that only works as long as you have neighbors (like Poland) who themselves don't rely on renewable power.
 
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In many countries screwing with your high voltage electricity is illegal if you are not certified. Most US states DIY is not illegal but connecting power to your local grid and shunting over is not something most will want to try, for the obvious reason of one screwup could easily end your life, burn down your house, ece.

There's also a lot of local ordinances on how you can install solar, how much, where it is located, ece and this changes not by state, but by township or even town. It's a PITA at times to find out what exactly is allowed and what isnt.
totally illegal for any non electrician to hook up solar in Australia. In no way is it DIY.


Wow. Way to miss the keyword: MOST. OBVIOUSLY, the act of tying your system to the grid is going to require an electrician. They’ll be responsible for inspecting your system and including your PV array before certifying your system for grid tie-in. But most people are afraid (or lazy, ignorant) of how solar systems work, so they just let the companies handle everything and pay out the *** for those systems.
 
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