Next-Generation Solar Power Technology

The reason why solar power holds growing promise in effecting complete transformation of energy markets and production is in its fundamental difference from fossil fuels. For the last two centuries, energy production has been based upon extracting and burning fuel sources from the ground. Solar power is a technology-based means to directly tap an ongoing source of free energy, the sun. Renewable energy is entirely a matter of technological development to achieve the maximum yield out of energy sources that, for all intents and purposes, are perpetual.

Anyone who can proudly claim that a solar system manufacturing enterprise is “my company” has good reason to boast. Solar technology can only improve with time in the effort to meet two basic challenges: gaining the greatest conversion efficiency while minimizing losses from inversion (the transition from Direct Current electrical production to Alternating Current electrical transmission).

Costs for renewable energy power systems continue to decline even as demand grows. This means that economy of scale is about to kick in as the transformative mechanism in energy markets worldwide. This metric will drive the costs for solar as well as other renewable energy technologies past grid parity with conventional power generation and to levels that coal- and gas-fired systems simply cannot hope to out-compete. This revolution is not quite yet about to occur, but the momentum for it is building up on an almost daily basis.

The key to unlocking this promise is in improvements in solar PV design that will increase efficiency. When this is achieved, the same level of power now generated by present-day solar panel arrays will be garnered from arrays with less total area. At the same time, adaptive improvements in panel design will enhance the performance of current panel systems. New ways to exploit more common materials such as iron instead of ruthenium, a rarer and comparatively expensive metal, and dyes based on nanostructured titanium dioxide, will both lower overall production cost and enable greater capture of sunlight for useful conversion. Combined with research into ways to successfully harvest and convert infrared frequency light, solar technology is on the verge of a revolutionary breakthrough transforming the energy picture forever.