Fast developments in solar energy

How fast do developments go?

In 1980, a good solar panel could not even convert 8% of the solar energy to electricity. When we started the Sustainable Yacht project in 2010 , the best solar panel available on the market could reach 20%. Three years later, we could install solar panels on the Sustainable Yacht ‘Ya’ doing just over 20%.

And the more panels will be on the market, the faster the developments go.

Faster and faster

Doing a mere 20% in 2010, in 2020, there were solar panels developed converting over 30%. A 10% increase!

In 2023 a Chinese factory developed panels with a 39% efficiency. They do that with a beautiful trick: they use two layers. The top layer consists of a special material, called Perovskite. that layer takes about 10% and that is not much, but it is transparant especially for infra red radiation. Under these transparant cells there are the regular cells as we know them, and they are especially sensitive for infra red. It leads to a total solar to electricity conversion of 39%!

They call it the heterojunction cell or simply tandem cell.

The cell to the right has two layers. The first (with Perovskite) converts solar rays to electricity and it lets the Infra Red go through. The second layer converts these rays to electricity. Such solar panel is also called a tandem panel. (Source US DOE)

Within the same year, German researchers even tipped the 39.9%. The pace of the development increases.

But, take all these new developments with a grain of salt. Donot wait for it to put on your roof. It can take decades before an innovation will find their place on the market. If they will anyway. For example, the Perovskite panels work only on critical Oxigen and water conditions. Especially these conditions are hard to maintain on a durable, sustainable basis, for on your roof, or on a ship. So perhaps these panels will only be used for outer space programmes?

A more versatile deployment, a faster growing market

Nowadays, many people and companies put solar panels on their roofs. Because we like to use that left over surface to make some energy, some money.

But we see smarter solutions. Architects start playing with it. They are designing facades of buildings with transparant solar panels. When in the office, you have a pleasant light in stead of a torching sun trying to cook the workers heads.

Next to climate solutions, solar panels also give a building a ‘face’.

We also see this on boats. More and more biminitops are made from solar panels. Because, why not using this shadow maker also as an energy catcher?

All new deployments enlarge the solar energy market. It makes the development increasing faster and faster.