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Can 'anti-solar' panels fill the void left by our battery shortcomings?

image credit: © Vladislav Kochelaevskiy | Dreamstime.com

While researchers work day and night trying to improve upon existing battery storage technology and harness the world's renewable energy during nighttime and windless days, some researchers in California claim to be able to produce photovoltaic panels that can capture energy after the sun goes down. 

In a paper recently published in ACS Photonics, UC Davis professor Jeremy Munday claimed that this technology has been realized. Munday's team is working on prototypes of the panels that produce energy by capturing the heat leaving Earth's surface after the sun goes down. 

"A regular solar cell generates power by absorbing sunlight, which causes a voltage to appear across the device and for current to flow," Munday said in a press release from UC Davis in late January. "In these new devices, light is instead emitted and the current and voltage go in the opposite direction, but you still generate power,” Munday said. “You have to use different materials, but the physics is the same.” 

The panels would only capture 25% of the energy a typical solar panel would in the daytime, however, it is still a major improvement over the nighttime energy being captured by solar cells now, which is none. 

What does this mean? Well, while we continue to figure out how to store solar energy captured during the day for use at night, this new technology would be able to capture energy at night. At scale, it makes renewable energy significantly more reliable. Of course, prototypes are still under development, but such technology could help fill the gap while science works toward a battery storage revolution. 

Christopher Neely's picture

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Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Feb 10, 2020 4:26 pm GMT

Christopher, you had me for a second - I thought anti-solar panels might be ones that work. Ones that show promise for eliminating fossil fuels.

But no, nothing can fill the void except licking our wounds, and admitting we've wasted tens of $billions on a naïve fantasy.

We can start by giving no credence to stories of "some researchers in California" who claim something or other, unless it's how to grow more potent weed. Isn't that what got us into this mess?

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