New Technology Could Triple Efficiency of Solar Panels
On August 1st, engineers from Stanford University published the details of their latest creation, a device that could double or even triple the efficiency of solar panels. Called PETE, short for "photo enhanced thermionic emission," the device enables panels to convert both light and heat from the sun into energy.
Energy producing solar panels currently in use only gather light from the sun, and their efficiency declines as they heat up. They completely cease to function around 100 degrees Celsius. Conversely, the new solar panels actually collect more energy as they get hotter. Made of a piece of semiconducting material covered by the metal celsium, the panels can convert the sun's heat to energy, and do not reach peak efficiency until they heat up to over 200 degrees Celsius.
Coupled with a thermal conversion cycle to convert the high temperature waste from this system into even more energy, PETE could help solar panels reach 55% efficiency. The Stanford engineers assert that even if PETE boosts solar panel efficiency to only 30%, this would make the cost of solar energy comparable to that of oil, thereby making solar power a more viable energy source.
Watch the video below to better understand how the system works: