Hewlett Packard announced last Thursday that they and Xtreme Energetics (XE) have entered into an agreement to develop a solar panel that will work at twice the efficiency of conventional panels, and at half the cost. Many new technologies purport to be able to do this, or try to utilize it in conjunction with other developing technologies, but HP and XE might actually pull it off. XE specializes in "transparent optoelectronic solar products," meaning that with transparent materials, more light can enter the cells and be captured and turned into energy. HP's side of the deal is to provide XE with a license to produce their transparent transistors, a complementary piece of technology, in return for royalties.
HP's tech is essentially a thin film transparent transistor, which is made from cheap and availabile materials, mostly zinc and tin. They say that "the materials raise no environmental concern," showing that, even though they attempt to get green, they have clearly never been to either a zinc or tin mine before. But if it will make possible what they claim, then its benefits should outweigh the costs. The principle behind the system as a whole is to have a super-efficient solar cell at the center of a light concentrator, but one that is transparent, allowing more light to reach the cell. The problem arises when electronics, which guide the solar tracking mechanism and concentrator, block out the light and reduce efficiency. With the HP transistor, this won't happen and efficiencies can be increased up to double that in current panels.
XE plans on putting out its first system in about a year only without the new transistors, which will take an additional year to integrate.
|< Prev||Next >|