Solar ‘concentrators’ focus on efficiency
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Practical Instruments is developing a “heliotube” designed to fit into traditional solar panels. The tubes follow the sun during the course of the day and concentrate the sun’s light to draw more electricity from the solar cells.
Energy Innovations, an Idealab company, has developed the Sunflower, a heliovolt which has 25 mirrors to concentrate sunlight on a single solar cell. The technique is designed to get more electricity from expensive silicon cells, making the overall system more cost-effective.
Using its research in optics and manufacturing, Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center is partnering with SolFocus to build glass solar concentrators that rotate during the day to face the sun directly. Engineers are using triple-junction solar cells and envision magnifying light by 500 times.
Prism Solar Technologies uses holographic technology to direct light, rather than reflect it off the solar panel. The technique is meant to magnify the amount of light that goes onto silicon cells and lower the cost of a panel.