Under the right circumstances, solar cells from Semprius could produce power more cheaply than fossil fuels.
- May/June 2012
- By Ucilia Wang
Semprius's solar panels use glass lenses to concentrate incoming light, maximizing the power production of tiny photovoltaic cells. Credit: Semprius
This past winter, a startup called Semprius set an important record for solar energy: it showed that its solar panels can convert nearly 34 percent of the light that hits them into electricity. Semprius says its technology, once scaled up, is so efficient that in some places, it could soon make electricity cheaply enough to compete with power plants fueled by coal and natural gas.
Because solar installations have many fixed costs, including real estate for the arrays of panels, it is important to maximize the efficiency of each panel in order to bring down the price of solar energy. Companies are trying a variety of ways to do that, including using materials other than silicon, the most common semiconductor in solar panels today.
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