There are various techniques that are applied to capture energy from the sun for various uses . One of these techniques is by constructing infrastructure that basically allows more sunlight to penetrate buildings for purposes of lighting and in some cases, heating. The second strategy that can be used to capture energy from the sun is by using solar panels: Solar panels are manufactured using photovoltaic cells. Photovoltaic cells have the capacity to capture energy from the visible light spectrum emitted by the sun. Photovoltaic cells are manufactured using semi-conductors, specifically silicon. Approximately 90% of solar panels in the contemporary generation are composed of silicon as the main semi-conductor with the remaining 10% being plastic material. Silicon has been widely used as a semi-conductor considering the fact that it is affordable and readily available . However, the major problems associated with the use of silicon as a semiconductor to manufacture solar panels leading it its inefficiency is the fact that it only has efficiency of between 12%-15% out of an anticipated 50% efficiency. Inefficiency of solar panels as a result of using silicon as the semiconductor occurs because a significant amount of energy is lost as heat while being converted to electric energy. Additionally, inefficiency of solar panels is caused by the fact that silicon cells are able to absorb energy only at higher end of light spectrum, characteristic usually associated electrons . Electrons have a specific energy threshold; this threshold must be met before they are able to ‘jump’ to the next level of energy, hence they become excited and can flow between and across the boundaries of plates. Research indicates that the amount of energy needed to facilitate the excitement of electrons is referred as ‘band gap’: Silicon as a semiconductor has approximately 1.07 eV band gap. There are two main solutions that can be applied to enhance the efficiency or performance of solar panels. One of these solutions is through conducting continuous research projects. Additionally, researchers in the University of Utah have introduced New Optical Element that can enhance the efficiency of solar panels to approximately 50%.
Scientists have performed various researches to ensure that the currently challenges leading to inefficiency of solar panels as a result of using silicon as a semiconductor is solved. In the year 2002, a group of scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories made a discovery that indium nitride had a band gap of 0.7 eV while previously it had been indicated that it had a band gap of 2 eV . Their research also indicated that a combination of indium nitride and gallium could be effectively used to develop solar cells that could absorb light from as a low as 0.7 eV to approximately 3.5 eV. In their research, they asserted that this was possible considering the fact that it could absorb light from a wide spectrum of light. The basis of their research was that by stacking layers of various alloys together, with varying band gaps, technologists could develop solar panels with 70% efficiency . There are also other researches that have been performed to enhance the performance of solar panels in the contemporary society. Research is an appropriate method that has been applied not only in the field of technology, but also in other fields such as socio-economic field. It creates a platform for generation and innovation of new ideas that could be applied to solve challenges. Despite the fact that the idea that was suggested by scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories has not been implemented, there is a possibility that with continued research, a breakthrough will be ultimately achieved. A group of scientists from the University of Utah have also developed a new technique that could be used to enhance the efficiency of solar panels up to 50%. This technique involves the use of an Optical Element. The Optical Element is made of a thin layer of transparent plastic material or even a glass: These materials concentrate and sort light, hence enabling it to be integrated in the glass cover of solar panels. In as much as this technology has not been commercialized, it is considered a cheaper way to enhance the performance of solar panels . The optical element functions by separating sunlight into various colors; the colors are easily absorbed by solar cells, hence increasing percentage efficiency. In their research, they indicated that this is technique that could be used to enhance the performance of solar panels, especially those that are manufactured using silicon as the semiconductor.
Most Appropriate Solution
Focusing on a continuous research approach as a means of solving the inefficiency of solar panels due to the use of silicon is a more appropriate approach compared to the application of a single solution. Despite the fact that all ideas are basically developed from wide research, it is important to encourage a culture of continuous scientific research as a means of solving technological challenges. From a personal perspective, continuous scientific research provides an appropriate platform for scientists to develop more workable solutions. A good example of how scientific research facilitates the development of more appropriate solutions is the research that was conducted by a team of scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories that led to development of an idea that could enhance the efficiency of solar panels to a potential of 70%. Assuming that current scientists stick to a single solution, it means that chances of developing more workable solutions to certain technological challenges will be reduced. In this aspect, it is important to acknowledge that the only appropriate solution to reducing inefficiencies of solar panels as a result of using silicon as a semi-conductor is by engaging in continuous scientific researches that would develop more efficient solar panels.
As aforementioned, there are various techniques that can be applied to harness energy from the sun. However, the most advanced and most commonly used technique is the use of solar panels that have photovoltaic cells. The photovoltaic cells have silicon, which acts as the semi-conductor; the use of silicon as a semiconductor has been attributed to certain inefficiencies associated with the use of solar panels. Through research, it has been proven that silicon only absorbs energy on the higher end of light spectrum; moreover, a significant amount of energy is usually lost as heat while sunlight is being converted to electric energy. There are two major approaches that can be applied by scientists to enhance the efficiency of solar panels. One of these approaches is the use of Optical Element, a technique that was developed by a group of researchers from the University of Utah. On the other hand, continuous scientific research is also another approach that can be applied to develop more effective ideas that can enhance the efficiency of solar panels. This approach is more appropriate compared to the former approach as it provides a platform for developing the best ideas.
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