Los Angeles-based PV developer V3Solar has repeatedly created a new design to convert solar energy using traditional technology in a new way, and in so doing have reported that they can squeeze twenty times more electricity out of the same amount of solar cells
Los Angeles-based PV developer V3Solar has repeatedly created a new design to convert solar energy using traditional technology in a new way, and in so doing have reported that they can squeeze twenty times more electricity out of the same amount of solar cells. Their new device, called the Spin Cell, does away with flat panels, placing solar cells on a cone frame. The cell are covered with energy concentrators, and the cone frame rotates on its mounting, removing the need for tracking hardware and software.
Until now, most solar arrays have been based on flat panels with solar cells mounted on one side. The panels are mounted on poles which allow for tilting to track the sun as it passes overhead in the sky. Researchers have previously looked into increasing the efficiency of solar cells by using lenses or mirrors to direct more of the sun’s energy in the hope of getting more electricity out of the same number of cells. But doing can create so much heat, the cells become useless.
The engineers at V3Solar took this same concept and modified it to prevent overheating by mounting the cells on a rotating platform so that each cell only receives heat for a very short amount of time before the cone spins and allows the cells to cool. The concentrators form an outer skin, creating a sealed inner environment for the triangular blue solar cells. The cone is situated on a base of electromagnets powered by some of the energy that has been converted from the sun’s energy by the solar cells, creating a nearly frictionless spin. The result is a sculpture-like device able to produce more electricity than traditional flat panels.
V3Solar hasn’t said how much the design will cost, but it is expected to be more expensive than a flat panel. The question for early adopters is, will the cost be equal to or less than twenty traditional panels? And will the frictionless mounting allowe for less expensive long-term operational costs?