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I Renewable Energy questions

  1. Apr 5, 2016 #1
    Hello everyone,

    I'm currently working on slabs (titles) that convert people's footsteps into electrical power via kinetic energy.

    Now, because I've been working with this tech over the past few months I've been thinking of new ideas for renewable energy sources.-not recreate just add to or better current ones. I would like to get opinions and thoughts if possible about my idea considering I do not have the knowledge or enough experience in this field.

    My idea- to my understanding solar panels work by converting the sun's light into energy via allowing photons to separate electrons from atoms and it's the photovoltaic cells that actually turns the sunlight into energy.

    Is there a way to magnify the sun's light to gain maximum exposure and potentially gain higher amounts of photons? For instance (an extreme measure) what if we were to put a giant magnifing glass over top of solar panels would it concentrate the sun's light, making it more powerful and for energy to be more attainable?

    Another thought was having the solar panels (silicon cells) themselves be incorporated with a heat retaining material like zeolite, therefore allowing for a hybrid, if I may, solar panels with incorporating a photovoltaic system with solar thermal system. This way it would utilize the full potential of the sun's light using its radiation and heating.

    I don't know if these ideas are unrealistic, ridiculous or already in the works, but I'd like to get any information on the subject so I can educate myself or at least look into furthering my idea.

    Thank you for your time I look forward to any replies.

  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 5, 2016 #2


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    That concept is called concentrator cells. You don't capture more sunlight, but your actual cell can get smaller, so using better cells (more expensive per area) becomes viable. The downside: it only works with direct sunlight and you usually have to track the sun, because only light from a specific direction gets focused on the small cell.
    Concentrator cells exist but their market share is small.

    The solar cell would reduce the heat, but cost the same as a solar cell elsewhere without that downside. I don't see an advantage.
  4. Apr 5, 2016 #3


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    PV cells sometimes need to take up as small an area as possible - for instance on a vehicle- but area is not a major problem in static arrays. The price per kW is coming down steadily and soon, I think, it will be possible to use multiple panels, in different directions, to make better use of the whole of the day's sunlight. Not very 'satisfying', perhaps but it could well be the way forward for large scale solar generation. Much more reliable than tracking systems.
  5. Apr 5, 2016 #4
    Thank you for your response. It's just unfortunate that renewable energy tech isn't cheap especially on a large scale, and because of this renewable studies isn't always in the forefront to elaborate such a topic. Thanks again

  6. Apr 5, 2016 #5
    Thank you very much for taking your time to respond. I'll have to look more into this as it has become very intriguing to me. I'd like to get a better understanding of this process and possibly figure out how this can be done more affectively but more over cost efficient which always seems to be the focus when bringing ideas forward. Thanks again
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 8, 2016
  7. Apr 5, 2016 #6


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  8. Apr 5, 2016 #7


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    Lenses get really bulky and expensive when they are big, so mirrors are usually used instead. Also, mirrors don't have chromatic dispersion.

    I don't think it makes much sense to combine photovoltaic with solar thermal, since solar thermal works best at very high temperatures, and photovoltaics lose efficiency or break at very high temperatures. All the solar thermal plants use huge concentrators to get the target temperature very high.
  9. Apr 8, 2016 #8


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