New Material Could Have Major Effect on Solar Panel Cost
“Disruption” is a term thrown around quite a bit in the tech industries these days. It’s generally used in relation to companies or projects that break into an industry and shake things up, usually to the benefit of the consumer and much to the dismay of the industry establishment. To “disrupt” an industry generally means one is providing better quality products to the consumer for less.
While it may not necessarily “disrupt” the solar industry, California’s Glint Photonics is looking to make a big impression.
While solar is a very reliable and prevalent form of renewable energy, it’s also quite expensive. Glint claims its products will lower solar’s cost, improve its performance, and enable lightweight optics in the infrared, and more.
This new material is designed to be more adaptive toward sunlight, maximizing its exposure, thus allowing for a much greater capture of energy. MIT Technology Review explained how it works, explaining that “Glint’s light concentrator has two parts. The first is an array of thin, inexpensive lenses that concentrate sunlight. The second is a sheet of glass that serves to concentrate that light more—up to 500 times—as light gathered over its surface is concentrated at its edges.”
A side of the glass is then covered with the adaptive material Glint is developing. Technology Review continued, explaining that “When a beam of concentrated light from the array of lenses hits the material, it heats up part of it, causing that part to stop being reflective, which in turn allows light to enter the glass sheet. The material remains reflective everywhere else, helping to trap that light inside the glass—and the light bounces around until it reaches the thin edge of the glass, where a small solar cell is mounted to generate electricity.”
Finally, Technology Review explains, as the day continues, “the beam of light from the lenses moves and the material adapts, always allowing light in only where the beam of light falls, and reducing the need to keep the apparatus pointed directly at the sun.”
Glint’s CEO Peter Kozodoy claims that costs could be reduced to $.04 per kilowatt hour.
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.