Solar Energy: Three Ways it is Becoming More Efficient

With a nearly infinite amount of energy available for harnessing from the sun, improvements in the efficiency of solar power technologies have rapidly been making solar power a cost-effective source of renewable energy. Three of the major steps towards improving efficiencies have been: Improvements in solar tracking systems, improvements in solar concentrators, and improvements in solar panel materials.

Solar panel

Solar Tracking Systems
Solar tracking system works by mounting solar panels on trackers that can change the angle of the panel as the sun moves across the sky. On a daily basis, the panels can move from facing east to facing west and they can also track the changing angle of the sun throughout the year. Solar tracking system manufacturers have made improvements for both single and double axis tracking to maximize the amount of sunlight that hits the panels throughout the course of a year. Panels mounted on trackers can produce anywhere from 27 to 39 percent more electricity than stationary panels. The increased energy production helps improve the return on investment period for large solar farms.

Solar Concentrators
Solar concentrators work by reflecting light waves with a waveguide to a central target. These are usually parabolically shaped troughs or large discs. Improvements in the reflecting technology have allowed more light to be concentrated. The energy of the light is then converted to heat and the heat used to drive a heat engine that produces electricity. Improvements in the conversion process and layout of large solar concentrator farms have also increased the efficiency of creating solar power using this technology.

Improvements in Solar Panel Material
Solar panel technology has been the focus of a variety of research and major improvements have been seen in the past decade. By increasing the efficiency of each solar panel, it is possible to convert more of the sun’s energy in electricity both on large and small scale projects. Some of the newest research is showing that solar cells coated with nanostructures can nearly eliminate reflection losses in solar panels. This coating has very low reflectivity so more of the sun’s energy gets absorbed and can be used to create electricity instead of being reflected back into the atmosphere.

As solar power efficiency continues to improve on all fronts, it will become more and more cost-effective to use solar power instead of fossil fuels for electricity. There is still plenty of room for improvement when it comes to capturing energy from the sun but current technologies are producing products are cost and energy efficient.

Author Bio: Annette Hazard is a freelance blogger that is writing about Solar tracking system. She often writes about environmental and health issues.

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