Researchers at MIT have recently concluded that solar panels, to optimize light intake, should be three-dimensional structures.
According to their report in the Energy and Environmental Science journal, researchers have found constructing a solar array with photovoltaic panels at various angles can boost performance levels by 2 to 20 times compared to flat panels! In fact, these modifications even improved performance on cloudy days, in winter months and in locations far away from the equator.
Researchers have thus far discovered that an accordion-like shape works the best. With multiple cubes stacked in a way so the sides face different directions, the structure has been getting substantially more light than any previously tested shape. And the fact it does this without a drastic increase in price is an added bonus.
“Even 10 years ago, this idea wouldn’t have been economically justified because modules cost so much,” MIT researcher Jeffrey Grossman stated, “Now the cost for silicon cells is a fraction of the total cost, a trend that will continue downward in the near future.”
This new development could also help out utility-scale solar farms that have their panels on trackers. These trackers add to the cost and complexity of the installation. A three-dimensional structure would eliminate that problem. In addition, these solar structures could even work in urban environments.
What Will Tomorrow’s Solar Panels Look Like? originally appeared in Green Chip Stocks. Green Chip Review is a free 2x-per-week newsletter, is the first advisory to focus exclusively on investments in alternative and renewable energies.