A game-changing Optical Cavity Furnace developed by NREL

Discussion in 'Environmental Discussion' started by tripp, Oct 26, 2011.

  1. tripp

    tripp Which it's a 'ybrid, ain't it?

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    Your tax dollars at work....

    Full Article
     
  2. Corwyn

    Corwyn Energy Curmudgeon

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    This looks like a step in the right direction to me. Reducing the cost and embodied energy of solar panels is a much better option than fractionally increasing the efficiency of the panel itself.
     
  3. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    sounds like a good use of research dollars, i'm in!
     
  4. rpatterman

    rpatterman Thinking Progressive

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    Would like to hear more of what has come out of NREL and to the market. Just saw that they are laying off 150 people, but at the same time there are 5 huge cranes building some massive buildings.
     
  5. The Electric Me

    The Electric Me Go Speed Go!

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    Wasn't the "Optical Cavity Furnace" the scene cut from the original "Willy Wonka"?
     
  6. SageBrush

    SageBrush Senior Member

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    The article says efficiency is improved from 16 to 20%. I wonder if this is cell, module, or completed panel.
     
  7. Corwyn

    Corwyn Energy Curmudgeon

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    I believe that is furnace efficiency.
     
  8. icarus

    icarus Senior Member

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    Bottom line, solar panel prices have NEVER been lower. That is due in no small part due to gluts in the market, but manufacturing efficiency has played a part.

    Icarus
     
  9. drees

    drees Senior Member

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    According to the article the OCF will reduce heat-input for wafer processing by 50% (cut it in half) and because the furnace is more consistent in heating the wafer it's able to produce a better product - thus improving cell efficiency from 16% to 20%.

    So not only does it reduce energy input by a good amount, it also improves the energy output of the end product.

    Just the 16-20% boost in panel output will reduce panel prices by 20% assuming the furnace costs the same as a regular furnace. But this furnace will cost a fraction of what a typical furnace costs (25%-50% the cost of a regular one) and reduce energy inputs for furnace processing by 50% as well.

    I don't know how much energy it usually takes to process a wafer and how much of that cost makes it to the end product, but anything that improves EROI is a good thing - and this improves this portion of the PV production process by a very significant amount.
     
  10. MontyTheEngineer

    MontyTheEngineer New Member

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    That's the new RSF building - it's not only where they're consolidating people from several smaller sites, it's also a giant working technology demonstrator for green buildings. It's a "net zero energy" office building, the first of its kind. Energy use inside it has been reduced so much that it only uses as much power as its solar panels put out each year, which is really difficult for an office building full of computers.
     
  11. SageBrush

    SageBrush Senior Member

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    The retail market already has 20% efficiency cells.
     
  12. drees

    drees Senior Member

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    Yes, but they come at quite a price premium (See SunPower panels). This would allow 20% efficiency cells at the same price as currently 15% cells.

    I don't see why this wouldn't allow a 4% boost to SunPower cells, too - the major difference with SunPower panels aren't the cells themselves, but the fact that the conductors are behind the cell instead of in front of the cell allowing more light to reach each solar cell. (Notice that conventional panels have 2 silver conductors running down each row, while these aren't visible on SunPower panels).
     
  13. SageBrush

    SageBrush Senior Member

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    I will have to double check, but I thought the best sunpower are close to 19% PANEL efficiency.
     
  14. drees

    drees Senior Member

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    Their best are around 20% panel efficiency with cell inefficiencies a few percent higher.

    Typical crystalline PV panels are around 16% panel efficiency these days.

    Either way - getting regular panels up to 20% and SunPower panels up to 24% would be a huge improvement for no extra cost.
     
  15. SageBrush

    SageBrush Senior Member

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    Sure but they talked about getting up to 20% CELL efficiency.
     
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