Stacking Solar Cells Like Pancakes: Much Smarter Than It Sounds

Discussion in 'User Submitted News' started by Gahars, Mar 26, 2012.

  1. Gahars

    Gahars Bakayaro Banzai

    Aug 5, 2011
    United States
    New Jersey
    When it comes to green energy, the odds are certainly stacked against us.

    I'm sure many of you have seen at least one roof adorned with solar panels, especially as they become more and more common. Harnessing the power of the sun is not a new idea by any means, but with the recent push towards more environmental-friendly energy, it's now in with the cool crowd.

    Of course, that's not to say it doesn't have critics. Many have made the argument that solar panels simply don't produce enough energy to be practical or efficient, for example, and it isn't without merit.

    Now, however, scientists from MIT have come up with a solution (or partial solution, at least) to this problem by... well, you read the title. No, that's all it takes.

    Source: Extremetech

    Who knew that the key to a scientific breakthrough could be found in a local IHOP? What other secrets does it hold?

    I always love innovations like this, where they achieve great breakthroughs while making everyone in the room plant their face in their palm and mutter, "Why didn't I think of that?" Combined with other solar breakthroughs, this could be the push that the industry needs. At the very least, I'm sure they're taking it well... though it could be a little too well.
    4 people like this.
  2. Zerosuit connor

    Zerosuit connor Baby I'm Back ♥

    Sep 17, 2010
    Wow... Energy efficiency, I wish I was in MIT.
  3. RupeeClock

    RupeeClock Colors 3D Snivy!

    May 15, 2008

    Certainly looks like it would be cost-effective and easy to manufacture. How long until we see these sticking out of roofs and old chimneys?
    That picture doesn't make it easy to tell how large those things are though.
    2 people like this.
  4. Tom Bombadildo

    Tom Bombadildo Tom BombaDadlo

    pip Contributor
    GBAtemp Patron
    Tom Bombadildo is a Patron of GBAtemp and is helping us stay independent!

    Our Patreon
    Jul 11, 2009
    United States
    I forgot
    Welp, looks like in the future I might have a giant cube of solar panels just sittin' in my yard. Cool.

    Also, @Rupee if you look closely you can see what appears to be a bench in the background so I would assume those aren't very big,
  5. yuyuyup

    yuyuyup GBAtemp Psycho!

    Apr 30, 2006
    United States
    USA MTN timezone
    It's not sexy enough, plus nuclear/oil/fracking lobbying efforts will destroy this before it ever reaches market.
  6. Bladexdsl

    Bladexdsl ZOMG my's over 9000!!!

    Nov 17, 2008
    that's nice but i'm still waiting for:

    5 people like this.
  7. The Milkman

    The Milkman GBATemp's Official Asshat Milkman

    Jan 12, 2011
    United States
    Throwing milk at the bitches!
    Hmmm this sounds good...but how much will these cost and how ugly are they gonna make my house/yard look?
  8. Sora de Eclaune

    Sora de Eclaune Baby squirrel, you's a sexy motherfucker.

    Feb 15, 2011
    United States
    123 Fake Street
    I shall invest in solar cells at once! Then, for nighttime activities, a Pikachu!
    3 people like this.
  9. Hyro-Sama

    Hyro-Sama I'm from the fucking future.

    Oct 25, 2009
    After Earth
    Where can I start buying stocks?
  10. shakirmoledina

    shakirmoledina Legend

    Oct 23, 2004
    Dar es Salaam
    thts quite amazing, and it never surprises me tht it was from MIT. what do they eat?!
  11. Veho

    Veho The man who cried "Ni".

    Former Staff
    Apr 4, 2006
    They didn't increase the efficiency of solar panels, they're just stacking more panels on the same surface area. This configuration increases the yield per square meter of land, but it requires a much bigger total surface of solar panels, and in fact the efficiency of each individual panel is actually decreased, since there are always panels not facing the sun.

    tl;dr: 20 times the output, 50 times the cost.
    1 person likes this.
  12. Costello

    Costello Headmaster

    Oct 24, 2002
    I thought the same, but it's so deadly obvious that I have to wonder -- why is everyone making it sound like it's revolutionary? to me it just looks like "more panels, different angles"

    there has to be something I'm missing here... I refuse to believe that my reasoning suprasses that of MIT students/post graduates/researchers
  13. Veho

    Veho The man who cried "Ni".

    Former Staff
    Apr 4, 2006
    It says just that in the article.

    So yeah, they found the way to cram a larger surface area of panels onto the same surface area of, say, your roof.

  14. Costello

    Costello Headmaster

    Oct 24, 2002
    so it takes less horizontal space, more vertical space... yay
    you can stuff more solar panels on your roof... yay
  15. Cyan

    Cyan GBATemp's lurking knight

    Global Moderator
    Oct 27, 2002
    Engine room, learning
    On a plane configuration, ALL panels must be lighted equally to be efficient.
    They are connected in series (I think), and if there's a shadow on even one panel, it decreases greatly the output power.

    So, maybe they are compensating the decreased power from panels not facing the sun by more panels facing it?
    But that make also more panels not facing it either on the other side :/
    Maybe each sides are two different sets.

    That's why there's more power at sunset (more faces are lit on the same ground surface), on zenith it's making shadow on itself and become less efficient.

    I'll be curious to see a power comparison graphics.
  16. ZAFDeltaForce

    ZAFDeltaForce Specialist

    Sep 9, 2006
    A cube model would certainly increase energy output, with the sunlight reflected to all panels in the cube regardless of the time of day.

    Doesn't change the fact that solar cells are still inefficient and are too expensive for the trouble though
  17. Gh0sti

    Gh0sti iOS Guru

    Aug 19, 2009
    United States
    Inside you, all around you
    im just waiting for more pure electric cars with solar panels built into them i think it will take Apple and hopefully Michigan to get back into the game and make cars again become the leading in the industry
  18. Searinox

    Searinox <3

    Dec 16, 2007
    Help me understand here...

    The main issue with solar cells is that if you want decent output, you have to cover a huge area with them. Right? Now the cells are vertical and produce a lot more power, yes? Well... they also cast a shadow equal in distance to their height, so while you ARE getting more power per square meter with a stack of these, you also have to leave a meter distance BETWEEN cell stacks to make sure they don't stand in eachother's shadow. Doesn't that render the entire benefit void?
  19. Qtis

    Qtis Grey Knight Inquisitor

    Feb 28, 2010
    The Forge
    This method benefits especially from the time when the sun is low or you're farther away from the equator. In other words, you'll be getting more sunlight in the darker times. The problem with the overlapping sunlight is present already in the "modern" sun panels, but this one can make at least a big more per square meter. Also hitting a few of these on a roof would make it possible to not cover the whole roof with panels to make some electricity :)
  20. dickfour

    dickfour Banned

    Jun 20, 2011
    United States
    The fact is solar energy is going to be pie in the sky nonsense for a long time to come. How many billions of tax payer money had been poured down a rat hole this year alone when many of the gov funded solar companies went tits up. Also solar uses many more tax $ than it generates. Count me a sceptic at least for the next 80 years
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