The startup “Insolight” has created a new solar panel that makes residential solar installations twice as efficient. The new solar panel was developed by a team from the innovation incubator of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), and apparently has a solar energy conversion rate of 36.4%. Nail twice as efficient as that currently available to residential customers, which is precisely the market they are trying to help.
The race to develop the most efficient solar technology is insane and there is no finish line. With each new development building on technologies already created, each new device holds promise for end users and, essentially, for people’s pockets. Insolight’s new technology is being tested in a very different laboratory environment from what it will find in practical applications, but solar energy’s astounding conversion rate is a great first step.
A prototype was tested by the Fraunhofer Institute, an independent laboratory based in Germany, in which the solar energy conversion rate of 36.4% was recorded. The device tracks the sun, optimizing the capture of solar energy, and as the team decided to take advantage of existing technology, they were able to keep production costs under control.
Their goal is to produce a highly efficient, yet affordable option for solar power, thus competing with today’s residential solar panels. Insolight solar panels were also designed to be easily installed in today’s standard mounting systems, meaning homeowners will be able to choose any mounting system they want, rather than having to purchase the manufacturer’s design.
They use a solar concentrator to increase efficiency without increasing the price. Thin, transparent plastic hubs that act like a lens on relatively small but high performance solar cells. This way, the team was able to use the best of both worlds: the high efficiency of expensive solar cells, but with only a small number of them, thanks to concentrators.
Hopefully, the technology meets the expectations created and is not, like many others, stored in a disaster drawer.
More information phys.org