Environment

Solar panels made three times cheaper and four times more efficient

Solar panels made three times ...
The Concentrated Universal Energy Solar System (CUESS) to be commercialized by Technique Solar
The Concentrated Universal Energy Solar System (CUESS) to be commercialized by Technique Solar
View 2 Images
Each CUESS module consists of nine troughs
1/2
Each CUESS module consists of nine troughs
The Concentrated Universal Energy Solar System (CUESS) to be commercialized by Technique Solar
2/2
The Concentrated Universal Energy Solar System (CUESS) to be commercialized by Technique Solar

As regular readers will know, we cover more than our fair share of breakthroughs promising next-generation super-efficient solar cells. Everything from growing photovoltaic crystals, applying special coatings or using carbon nanotubes teases us with cheaper, more efficient solar energy - eventually. In this latest news, scientists are using current technology in a new type of concentrating array which they say is four times more efficient and three times cheaper than current solar cells.

The technology was originally developed at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) and will be commercially produced by a spinoff company called Technique Solar. Each solar module consists of nine "troughs" that feature a concentrating acrylic lens and reflective walls to focus the sun’s rays onto a strip of photovoltaic (PV) cells, which enables the number of PV cells to be cut by 75 percent. The PV cells are used to generate electricity, while a heat exchanger located under them is used to generate heat for circulating water and storage tanks for a hot water system. Additionally, to maximize the sun’s rays the array has a motor drive mechanism with tracking sensor to follow the sun.

Each CUESS module consists of nine troughs
Each CUESS module consists of nine troughs

The company says its Concentrated Universal Energy Solar System (CUESS) makes it possible to deliver solar energy more economically and more efficiently than other current forms of solar energy generation. Each 3.5 square meter array apparently produces a total of around 2.1-kW of power, while a standard PV panel would need to be around 12-14 square meters to produce around the same amount. Technique Solar says its panels can supply heat load (hot water) and electrical energy at one quarter of the energy costs of conventional solar energy systems.

It must be highlighted however that these figures refer to total energy output – which combines both the electrical and heat power – not just electrical output, as is the case with standard solar cells. The standard CUESS panel produces 400 watts of electrical power and 1700 watts of heat power for a total of 2100 watts. It is this combination of heat and electrical energy output that allows the developers of the CUESS technology that allows them to claim a lifting of efficiency from around 18 percent for standard solar panels to over 50 percent.

Technique Solar has teamed with Magna Cosma, one of the world’s largest car component manufacturers boasting 242 manufacturing facilities spread over 25 countries. It will build 10 pre-production models in North America for testing and demonstrations at various sites around the world from June 2010 to obtain the final commercial accreditation and rating.

Technique Solar doesn’t plan to sell its system as an off the shelf purchase to consumers. Rather it intends the modules to be rolled out as infrastructure complementing existing energy supplies from the grid. The modules will be owned/leased by a Power Utility (or in some instances/countries by local councils, government or large corporations) who will then arrange for installation onto residential, commercial, industrial as well as school premises to complement or substitute existing energy supply.

40 comments
Nick Gencarelle
Why is it that every time something huge comes along it is already tied to big utility interests? Why not have consumer level production? This becomes the old political back room deal that makes a few people a lot of money at the expense of the rest of the world. Guess what? Someone else will take it and modify it and make it even better and they will lose a huge selling opportunity and the ability to make a difference to the planet-but do they care?
Facebook User
Because the green movement isn\'t about helping humanity, it\'s about making billions at the expense of the human race. They make their millions by inventing the technology then eventually it get sold on to another compamy then the previous company makes more money the new company makes it better then eventually they sell it to another company etc. Maybe a few very rich billionares like bill gates and the rest can afford to by these \"CLEAN GREEN\" technologies along the way but people like us don\'t get anything. Besides, i\'m not for man made global warming which snubs the human race.
MockingBird TheWizard
there\'s more money to be made for less effort using government contracts, as there is a lot of corruption there. get big energy and the gov involved and there\'s a lot of money for not a lot of product. less customer service issues, etc etc. in the grand scheme of things, I think that if the product is financially feasible then market it to the world, let the govt get some if they want, and become rich and famous like bill gates. but, sometimes some people know some people and they can land some contracts that will be very lucrative and get special funding etc etc etc... we have to wait for more people minded inventors (like N.Tesla and B.Franklin) who were more interested in helping everyone. I have hope in the open source community in coming up with better stuff very soon. these are people who realize the patent system is currently stifling innovation and not really being \'fair\' in any real sense. don\'t believe it? how does it make sense that if 2 people develop something individually, the guy who gets to the patent office 10 minutes early blocks the other guy from using his creation? that completely contradicts their argument of \"we spent billions on development and need to make money to function\"... I think who ever gets there first gets 10% of the retail price of what ever it is for 10 years. that\'s it. but you shouldn\'t be able to stop people from making and selling something just becaue you came up with it first. that\'s just stifling.
Chettan Suresh
Why dont we look at the positve side of the improvement in efficiency the company claims to have acheived. Let the rich become more richer. But the world will eventually get down to more efficient way of producing energy. The technology will perculate down to the poor sooner or later.
Nathan Stephanson
@Chettan Suresh what, are you insane?!? if that was the way it worked in the past then by the time incandescent light bulbs \"Percolated down to the poor\" the rich would have super efficient LED arrays which cover the ceiling to imitate sunlight and are powered by the breeze caused by a person walking past!
Craig Jennings
Isn\'t heat just vibrating material? Could we get some charged material vibrating in a pattern and grab the energy off that with some coils? We can make some pretty fantastically small circuits nowadays
Anumakonda Jagadeesh
Sounds interesting. But all these Solar Advanced Systems are very expensive. Developing countries need cost effective systems. So we wait till Chinese enter into these new systems to sell the products at a cheaper price. Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India
Collin Macfergus
Whoa, whoa, whoa! I\'m sensing some overreaction to the article here. Let\'s break down the last paragraph just a little: \"Technique Solar doesn%u2019t plan to sell its system as an off the shelf purchase to consumers. Rather it intends the modules to be rolled out as infrastructure complementing existing energy supplies from the grid. The modules will be owned/leased by a Power Utility (or in some instances/countries by local councils, government or large corporations) who will then arrange for installation onto residential, commercial, industrial as well as school premises to complement or substitute existing energy supply.\" In other words, Technique Solar is not a direct seller and they want to work through a typical leasing program provided by a Power Utility, Local Council, Government, or Large Corporation, a.k.a. a well financed leasing company such as a Solar City, Sun Run, Sungevity, etc. Many of the leasing programs will partner with local contractors who is turn provide the direct selling, which results in complementing or substituting \"existing energy supply\". In other words, there are opportunities for the day-to-day solar panel contractor/installer, small business and citizen to install Technique Solar panels. It\'s OK, really. We might ask Gizmag to re-write portions of this article. There are portions of it that are confusing.
DonSolar
Incorporating hot water and CPV will boost the total efficiency, but the electricity is more valuable. The linear concentrator will have fewer parts, but the concentrations will be lower. I think the CPV will end up dominating in areas with good DNI (Direct Normal Irradiance). Just in the last year here are some of the records we have seen: Most efficient solar cell by Solar Junction 43.5% Most efficient single junction concentrator 29.1% FhG-ISE http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ed/PVeff%28rev110408U%29.jpg The technology seems to favor the concentrator companies like Concentrix, Amonix and Sol Focus, but I am curious if the spectral splitting concentrators will become economically viable. I think the key will be making the system as simple as possible. I like the Rainbow Concentrator approach by Sol Solution.
Facebook User
the quicker we burn the oil that is left, the more expensive the rest of it becomes, the quicker solar energy technologies get developed and INDUSTRIALIZED (adopted) . if we don\'t do this soon, ---burn as much oil as we can----it\'s possible the price of oil stays relatively stable for years. and this is not good for the prospects of solar energy. so really, if you want to advance the adoption of solar, you can invest in burning oil as well as invest in solar energy. don\'t worry about coal. just burn as much oil as you can. as far as coal, well cheap coal will never change since coal is SO damn plentiful. what you can do is use the govenrment beauracracy to harras coal companies and make their cost of production higher. yea, a lot of environmentalists love to use government to make things \'better\'. but what has this gotten them? has government really helped usher in solar power? a little yea, but government is not the ultimate answer, free enterprise is. and remember any power you cede to your government in an effort to constrain coal will no doubt be used to constrain solar energy. ( they will fight fire with fire). so the market solution is burn as much oil as you can, invest in solar, make the cost of electricity higher. all these things will drive the demand for cheaper energy in favor of solar. nuclear energy, well, i feel like i could say plenty about that, but i wont.