Imagine solar power cells able not only to utilize visible light but infrared light as well. Most people probably don’t imagine such things. In fact there exists a large percentage of the population who really do not understand these scientific and technological concepts. This is unfortunate on multiple levels, the chief one being an inability to understand how solar systems actually work.
Solar panels harvest visible light, the form most compatible for silicon photovoltaic (PV) crystals to convert into electricity. Infrared light is useless for PV panels because infrared light photons propagate at a lower energy frequency. So although they easily pass through even the thickest cloud cover, infrared light cannot be harvested in standard design panels. New research may soon solve this problem through the design of an add-on material layer, a hybrid of inorganic and organic chemicals. The organic material can “up-convert” infrared light photons into visible light photons and thereby increase the useful light radiation gathered for electrical power by PV cells. Since this would be an add-on component, no radical redesign of existing PV panels is required, and presently-deployed solar panels can be modified easily instead of being replaced wholesale at great expense.
Now, what does this mean for the solar market? Quite a lot in fact, and this is where understanding how solar technology actually works is important. Once this adaptive modification is passed into wide-scale production, one of the remaining objections to solar power falls: its inability to work on cloudy days. This has important implications in terms of politics, governmental policy, and even more importantly, investment. Because if people had a better grasp of these issues, not only would they be better able to influence politicians and governmental policy to their greater benefit, they would also understand the potential for making a real killing on the markets. The companies that take this design adaptation to scale will profit substantially. The next-generation solar panel systems will have this innovation built in. And with even greater power conversion efficiency wedded to existing panel systems that are experiencing falling costs, market penetration will go ever deeper. This translates into growing profits for solar power technology companies. Investors who bet the smart way will reap considerable rewards as they ride this wave to a cleaner and richer energy sector. The source of the page linked here can further clue readers in on this innovation and its implications. Check it out for yourself.