Ruminations on the electronics industry from David Manners, Senior Components Editor on Electronics Weekly.
Funny Sunny Cells
One’s always wary of companies with a world-changing product whose shares are traded on the Over The Counter market, but life would be drearier without them.
The Yanks like our relatively unregulated alternative stock exchanges and probably think we’re a good bet when it comes to investing in world-beating, but-not-quite-here-yet, technologies.
The aspirations of Solar3D Inc are of the mind-boggling variety. The problem with solar energy is cost. Solar becomes a no-brainer when it costs the same as standard methods of generating energy.
What could deliver that cost parity is 3D solar cells, says Solar3D – purveyor, or would-be purveyor – of 3D solar cells.
“Our objective has always been to change the solar world by changing the economics of solar energy,” says Jim Nelson, CEO of Solar3D Inc, “there are many reasons to use renewable energy – but solar energy won’t be widely adopted until it is economically competitive with lower cost alternatives. We believe that our 3D solar cell will accomplish that.”
Solar3D Inc says it is currently constructing a prototype of its 3D solar cell on a silicon wafer. Following the completion of this “proof of concept” prototype, the company says it will select a pilot manufacturing partner to complete a pilot manufacturing run of 50,000 units.
The company estimates that a typical 17% efficient solar cell performs more like a 5% efficient cell when light is shining 20 degrees from the side, such as during the morning or evening hours. It claims that its 3D cell can maintain 25% efficiency for a longer period of time and can generate 200% of the power output of conventional solar cells.
The company’s web-site blurb says: ’Up to 30% of incident sunlight is currently reflected off the surface of conventional solar cells, and more is lost inside the solar cell materials. Our solar cell technology utilises a 3D design to trap sunlight inside micro-photovoltaic structures where photons bounce around until they are converted into electrons. This next generation solar cell will be dramatically more efficient, resulting in a lower cost per watt that will make solar power affordable for the world. This patent-pending technology is currently in the research and development stage.’
“Now that we have created the basic design, and know that it is even better than we anticipated, we have an even higher level of confidence in our ability to commercialise this novel product,” says Nelson.
The company, which has no revenues, is reported to have paid newsletters $25,000 to write about Solar3D.
They say there’s always something new under the sun but not, I suspect, a 3D solar cell.
Tags: evening hours, prototype, solar cell technology, solar world, stock exchanges