New design makes solar energy capture 35 percent more efficient.
Even the latest solar panels typically convert a rather disappointing 22 percent of the light they capture into energy. Part of this is because, as they are angled in one direction, they only receive sunlight during certain hours of the day.
However, researchers from the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore have come up with a revolutionary new design to solve the problem of 'fixed' direction.
Rather like a sunflower that tilts its head to follow the sun, the new solar panel design tilts on its axis to follow the path of the sun and, as an added bonus, also captures reflected light off the ground on the underside of the panels. This is done with the help of a GPS system which calculates the path of the sun around the panels.
Although models that are double-sided or follow the path of the sun are in production, very few combine the two energy-saving technologies. With the help of data from NASA’s Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System, field data on global sunlight patterns from three different institutes, and data on how much radiation a panel face can take in based on its orientation to the ground, the Singapore team figured out that no matter where in the world you put them, they would be the most cost-effective form of solar panel.
The new panels capture 35 percent more energy than immobile single-panel systems and are 16 percent more cost-efficient. The team thinks this new solar innovation will take over the market very shortly, so don’t be surprised if you see the solar panels in your neighborhood moving around of their own accord in the near future.
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