Solar Tech

This is definitely speculative, but if it pans out, you can expect major impact on companies like SEDG.

Solar Cells Will be Made Obsolete by 3D rectennas aiming at 40-to-90% efficiency

A new kind of nanoscale rectenna (half antenna and half rectifier) can convert solar and infrared into electricity, plus be tuned to nearly any other frequency as a detector.

Right now efficiency is only one percent, but professor Baratunde Cola and colleagues at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech, Atlanta) convincingly argue that they can achieve 40 percent broad spectrum efficiency (double that of silicon and more even than multi-junction gallium arsenide) at a one-tenth of the cost of conventional solar cells (and with an upper limit of 90 percent efficiency for single wavelength conversion).

http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/09/solar-cells-will-be-made-ob…

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This is definitely speculative

When one is demonstrating 1% and talking about 40-90%, speculative doesn’t even begin to cover it!

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You gotta love optimists. Especially academic ones. Only a small jump from 1 % (lab not real world) to 40 % real world. Sounds easy enough.

Thanks for posting the source link Banjo. To balance out the fear, note these quotes from the same source.
“We still have a lot of work to do to lower contact resistance which will improve the impedance match between the antenna and diode, thus raising efficiency,” Cola told us."
TRANSLATION - many years and may never happen.

And “Diodes operating at these frequencies are feasible if their capacitance is on the order of a few attofarads but they remain extremely difficult to fabricate and to reliably couple to a nanoscale antenna.”

I did a paper in grade school (about 40 years ago) on the advantages of solar energy for homes which was just starting. 40 YEARS AGO on something that was being utilized commercially is just now becoming economically feasible!

Disruptive technologies definitely keep us all guessing what is next and when. Interesting site. Thanks again for sharing.

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I did a paper in grade school (about 40 years ago) on the advantages of solar energy for homes which was just starting. 40 YEARS AGO on something that was being utilized commercially is just now becoming economically feasible!

Solar may seem to be progressing slowly, but it’s really not. Cost per watt and adoption have been growing at an exponential rate for a very long time. We are now at something like 2% of electric production. I think it’s been doubling every 2.5 years or so. We are now at the point where the growth will become more and more apparent due to the exponential nature of the increases. This is because there is a large enough base of installed solar for further doublings to become VERY apparent. So 2% in 2015 turns into 32% by 2025 and virtually everything by 2030. We’ll see if this continues. I’m betting it will so I’ve invested some portion of my portfolio in companies that I think will benefit from conversion to solar as a primary energy source. We will see how this plays out as we will see the progress in the coming years. If it does it will be because of economics (i.e. solar becoming the lower cost energy). Now, if solar continues to become cheap we will need to think of the implications on the world (and on our possible investments) of virtually free energy.

Chris

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Only a small jump from 1 % (lab not real world) to 40 % real world. Sounds easy enough.

Let’s play Moore’s law and pretend efficiency will double each year:
1%, 2, 4, 8,16,32

Hey, just 5 or 6 more years :wink:

You gotta love optimists. Especially academic ones.

I am imagining a lifetime of research, going down dead end after dead end, and then, finally being able to say:

…but what was key to our demo was we showed our computer model matched our experimental results…

How often does that happen? I have no problem imagining myself getting carried away a bit. :sunglasses:

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This is definitely speculative, but if it pans out, you can expect major impact on companies like SEDG.

Banjolicious,

Several have pointed out, including yourself, that this is speculative and at best years away from any impact, but I’m curious why you would expect it to have a major impact on SEDG. That sounds like you think that impact would be negative. Am I reading that wrong? I ask because whether it be current silicon-based solar cells or these future carbon nanotube devices both create DC (direct current) that must be converted to AC (alternating current) and that’s exactly what the Solar Edge devices do. So, if anything cheaper, more efficient solar devices should be good news for SEDG.

Steve

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RRRBigDaddy,

“We still have a lot of work to do to lower contact resistance which will improve the impedance match between the antenna and diode, thus raising efficiency,” Cola told us."
TRANSLATION - many years and may never happen.

And “Diodes operating at these frequencies are feasible if their capacitance is on the order of a few attofarads but they remain extremely difficult to fabricate and to reliably couple to a nanoscale antenna.”

My education was in physics, and long ago the lab I was in was doing what today would be considered nanoscale work in graphite. My experience says you shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the possibility of significant and rapid improvement.

It is very hard to create the first prototypes of nanoscale devices, and especially so when couplings are involved between such tiny components (recall that “nano” means “one billionth”, so these are electronic components that are 1/1,000,000 of a meter in scale). So, lab results are often messy, but the pressure to publish compels the scientists to get the paper out there before they perfect the design. Perfecting the masks and etching controls necessary to improve the design can happen fairly quickly, once the concept is proven.

The idea of coupling devices at this scale involves significant quantum effects that add complexity, but it is certainly not impossible. Capabilities to make these devices are proliferating – even our small (~2000 student) engineering school has a very advanced MEMS and Nano lab.

I find this to be a very tantalizing prospect. Adding the third dimension to enhance yield makes perfect sense. My youngest daughter did a science fair project in the eighth grade that investigated different geometries of solar panels for efficiency (i.e., arranging the panels in different 3-D arrays). Doing so at the nano scale would be an amazing improvement.

Tiptree, Fool one guide, and physicist-turned-investor

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even our small (~2000 student) engineering school has a very advanced MEMS and Nano lab.

Tiptree,

As a Macro Economic Fool (er fool)

What if find interesting is " even our small (~2000 student) engineering school has a very advanced MEMS and Nano lab. "

When you realize that we no longer have top scientists working on the problem, we have top scientists leading teams of scientists all over the world working on the problem, you see that the advances are not just moving at a faster pace, rather a faster faster pace.

And that acceleration is getting faster. I am sure someone can come up with a cool formula to explain it.

Cheers
Qazulight (Still working on that tricky algebra stuff)

I’m curious why you would expect it to have a major impact on SEDG. That sounds like you think that impact would be negative. Am I reading that wrong?

I guess my assumption is that SEDG inverter technology is optimized for the PV cells of today. Whether or not they will easily adapt to the characteristics of this new process is one of those devils that lives in the details. You have a good point tho, the effect could be that SEDG gets a nice new market out of it.

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“our computer model matched our experimental results…” and we kept changing the assumptions and algorithms until it did.

It’s true most scientists spend their whole life making only minor discoveries or minor extensions of the works of others. Because a real breakthrough requires a combination of inspiration, luck, hard work,timing , and willingness to pursue what others see as folly.Even then t most bright ideas in science turn out to e duds.
Even if are really smart, great ideas are few and far between. and if you are lucky enough to get one, family or job restraints (your boss doesn’t believe in it)or just laziness may prevent a follow through.

…SolarCity, the company co-founded by Elon Musk, now produces the world’s most efficient rooftop solar panels with a module efficiency of just over 22 percent. That bests the X-Series panels built by SunPower, which top out at around 21.5 percent. The results were confirmed by the Renewable Energy Test Center
http://www.engadget.com/2015/10/02/elon-musk-solar-city-roof…

Doesn’t seem particularly exponential but enough buzz to give SCTY stock a one day boost on its way down. No doubt some short covering, too. Well over 40% of the float short, was down about 26% since earnings July 29, a day after a TMF article explained SCTY was “too complicated” for your average Joe Lunch Pail.

…But SolarCity’s big experiment isn’t without big risks. In August, an in-depth feature by David Rotman, the editor of MIT Technology Review, pointed out that the future of residential solar is still unwritten. Rotman explained that the economics of the business depend on some very uncertain factors:

Even if all goes well, the gigafactory could be facing a dramatically different solar-power market. At the end of 2016, the federal tax credit for solar power is due to drop from 30 percent to 10 percent for businesses and to disappear altogether for consumers who buy their own solar panels. By making residential solar power less affordable, the change could be devastating to the industry. And it will come just as the Buffalo factory is ramping up its manufacturing capacity.
http://gizmodo.com/solarcity-is-about-to-start-manufacturing…

I read a lot of what seems to be very serious challenges to the industry as a whole. Big vote upcoming in California shortly. Anyway, it would be great if all the talk of parity with other generation would some day come true, just from a taxpayer’s point of view. The subsidies remain enormous despite all the claims to the contrary.

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