Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Quest for Cheaper Solar Cells

Solar radiation is abundant. Thus harvesting energy from the sun using solar cells is increasingly emerging as a major component of future global energy steps. Yet, when it comes to harnessing renewable energy, challenges remain. Expensive, large-scale infrastructures are necessary to drive those renewable energy sources.

Purified silicon, also used for making computer chips, is a core material for fabricating conventional solar cells. However, the processing of a material such as purified silicon is beyond the reach of most consumers. Theya are first made for [outer] space solar cells. This is main challenge in making solar cells cheaper. New technologies like this, which take much less energy in manufacturing solar cells, are so important. It been so difficult to make efficient, yet inexpensive solar cells that could compete with fossil fuels as sources of electricity.

For the next times, the image of solar cells may change gradually. They used to be expensive devices and also look as ugly boxes added to roofs as an afterthought. Now researchers are starting to develop more cheaper material and process, and attractive packaging, even solar shingles. One of prototype of the newest cells even take the form of flexible glass on both sides, and can be made to look like a colored glass. This could be used as a power-producing window or skylights or building facades. The wall or window itself is photovoltaicly active. It means that someday we may have transparent solar cells installed on our windows, car roof, etc with decorated fitly to those surface. Someday homeowners will be able to print sheets of these solar cells with inexpensive home-based inkjet printers. Consumers can then slap the finished product on a wall, roof or billboard to create their own power stations. Life would be more nice, when those cheaper cells fit every design around us.

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