SANTA BARBARA, USA: Solar3D Inc., the developer of a breakthrough 3-dimensional solar cell technology to maximize the conversion of sunlight into electricity, has completed a detailed simulation analysis comparing its breakthrough solar cell with conventional solar cells. The results reveal that the company’s breakthrough solar cell can produce 200% of the power output of conventional solar cells.
The company’s innovative single wafer silicon solar cell is based on a 3-dimensional design with two very powerful and unique patent-pending features: wide angle light collection and high conversion efficiency. The Solar3D cell has a special wide-angle feature on the surface that can capture more light in the morning and evening hours, as well as in the winter months when the sun is not directly overhead.
The Solar3D cell also uses a 3-dimensional design to increase the electricity generation efficiency by trapping sunlight inside photovoltaic microstructures, which are etched into the wafer, where photons bounce around until they are converted into electrons. These two features are combined into a single solar cell design to deliver unprecedented performance.
Jim Nelson, CEO of Solar3D, commented: “Our development team believes we may have discovered the ultimate silicon solar cell design. One of the biggest challenges facing solar cells is light reflection. When sunlight hits conventional solar cells from off angles, the photons are simply reflected away. To make matters worse, the cells become dramatically less efficient if the sun is not shining within a narrow range of incident angles. Our breakthrough design dramatically reduces the effect of this problem.”
The company’s analysis indicates that a typical 17 percent efficient solar cell performs more like a 5 percent efficient cell when light is shining 20 degrees from the side, such as during the morning and evening hours. The company estimates that its Solar3D cell can maintain its high 25 percent efficiency for a longer period of time and can generate 200 percent of the power output of conventional solar cells. This translates to an estimated 40 percent reduction in the payback period of a fully installed Solar3D panel array.
Nelson added: “The result of our innovation is a revolutionary solar cell that can deliver benefits that have long eluded the solar industry. Everyone wants low cost high-powered solar cells to convert an unlimited amount of free solar energy into useful electricity. But, the industry has hit a wall using conventional 2-dimensional solar cell designs. With Solar3D cells, utility solar farms can be smaller in size and easier to operate without the need for mechanical systems to track the sun. Space limited applications, such as rooftops, can finally generate enough useful power to successfully compete against other sources of electricity. We believe that our 3D design is a game changer.”
Solar3D is currently constructing a prototype of its 3-dimensional solar cell using silicon, simply because silicon is the most abundant and least expensive material available in the world for making solar cells. Early solar pioneers such as First Solar, Abound Solar and Solyndra bet heavily on thin film solar cells using rare earth materials such as cadmium, telluride and gallium. Their lack of market success supports the company’s fundamental belief that silicon is the right material for solar cells and 3D is the right way to get more performance out of silicon.