Dennis Flood examines the use of nanotechnology to address the technical challenges of thin film solar cells. In his work for Natcore Technology, Dennis Flood suggests the use of a technique named bandgap engineering. This enables the quantum dots or tiny structures of up to 200 atoms of silicon to absorb different wavelengths of light.
1. An exiting new development in the photovoltaics sector
I find his analysis exiting, to say the least. Nanotechnology increases the efficiency of thin film tandem solar cells considerably. This is done just by applying a layer on top of the conventional solar cell arrays. Dennis Flood estimates the efficiency of these tandem solar cells increases to above 30%. So solar panels could become competitive on a per kilowatt-hour basis with other more established renewable energy sources in the future!
2. Nanotechnology applied to solar panels will cause a downward trend in wholesale electricity prices
We have to understand that this is a major shift and makes photovoltaics much more competitive, I presume it will lower prices for renewable energy, slowly but steadily.
As we all know, the prices paid for setting up solar panels have fallen dramatically. I believe this is partly because production costs in East Asian countries have continued to fall with rising sales and increasing automation. This could be a further step in the direction where, despite falling prices, the energy yield of the solar panels continues to rise. Eventually, solar energy will outcompete wind energy in Southern Europe, where yields are generally higher then in Northern Europe.
3. What I think about it and why I believe that nanotechnology is critical to transition to a new energy paradigm:
Personally, I think that nanotechnology would not make photovoltaic installations competitive with large hydroelectric plants, but it could make photovoltaics competitive with other renewable energy technologies such as geothermal energy. To make the renewable energy transition possible, we need to use different renewable energy technologies.
Contrary to public perception, it is not just one energy technology that we need. What we need right now are multiple energy technologies all working in unison, beause they all have different strengths and weaknesses. Nanotechnology if applied to solar cells will definately help us achieve a smoother energy transition.
4. Why I definately recommend Natcore’s White Paper on the application of nanotechnology to solar panels
Natcore’s White Paper in my opinion is without a doubt the best place to start for those interested in new applications to photovoltaic installations. Natcore is in my honest opinion straight to the point, they outline how nanotechnology will impact on the PV industry. If you want to read more on this subject, I recommend you follow the link: