For most people, a long winter’s day consists of coming in from the cold, snuggling up with a loved one, and happily spending the day watching TV or reading a book. But for James Crumley, a winter’s day is simply beginning his day at 7:00am, when the sun starts its daily journey across the sky. For the past year, the Australian entrepreneur has been living out of his car as he develops and manufactures the world’s first ‘third generation’ photovoltaic stack designed to be mobile and easy to use.
The sun is a source of unlimited clean energy that we do not seem to be using to its full potential. While we often think of solar energy as being beneficial only when used in the conventional form of photovoltaics to generate electricity, those who use it for heating, cooling, and hot water gain immensely from its use.
Why 3rd Generation?
The concept of third generation photovoltaics was developed after considering the ever-increasing demand for clean energy, and the diminishing supply of fossil fuels. Traditional photovoltaics are composed of silicon cells that are becoming less and less efficient as technology improves. The concept of third generation photovoltaics is to combine together high-performance photovoltaic panels to form a system that is smaller in size but more powerful than a single panel.
To do this, Crumley engineers have created a hybrid solar system that utilizes both traditional silicon cells and specialized semiconductor cells known as tandem cells. The use of tandem cells allows for a larger voltage to be produced than a conventional single-junction solar cell, meaning more power can be harvested from the same amount of light. The larger voltage also means that more than one panel can be connected in series to create a greater output than a single panel would alone.
The Growth Of The Market For Third Generation Photovoltaics
Although conventional photovoltaics have been available for several decades, it has only been in the last few years that their adoption has started to increase. This is largely due to the emergence of companies such as SolarCity that built their business around bringing solar energy to the masses, and Sungevity that focused on providing people with the financial incentives to go solar.
Thanks to government subsidies and tax breaks, individuals interested in reducing their carbon footprint and generating their own clean energy have also started to embrace solar energy. The result is that, in 2017, 4.7 million American homes purchased some type of photovoltaic system. That’s one in every 10 American homes.
But while the United States was the first country to adopt and promote solar energy, its adoption has only increased from there. According to Mordor Intelligence, the market for third generation photovoltaics will grow from $13.3 billion in 2017 to $32.9 billion by 2027.
So, what makes third generation photovoltaics so special?
How Does It Work?
So how exactly does a third generation photovoltaic system work? Let’s take a closer look.
In a third generation photovoltaic system, cells are arranged in such a way that they allow for the maximum amount of sunlight to be absorbed. This is important because although direct sunlight can be very useful, a lot of the time, the sun is not directly visible. The positioning of the panels also plays a large role in the system’s ability to generate power. In general, the farther away from the equator you get, the more sun you will receive, and the more power the system will produce.
When sunlight is beamed onto the surface of a cell, it creates electron pairs in the semiconductor material, which are subsequently separated by an electric field. This is called the photoelectric effect, and it is what allows for the generation of electricity. In conventional photovoltaics, the electric field is created by a series of metal plates that are connected to one another through wires called ‘busbars’.
In a third generation solar cell, the electric field is created by a series of prongs that are made of the same material as the cell itself. This is because the prongs are designed to match the shape and symmetry of the cell’s atomic structure. In general, the closer the prongs and the busbars are to the cell surface, the greater the efficiency of the system.
The reason why traditional photovoltaics work the way they do is because in most cases, the silicon cells have to work in cooperation with the metal plates and wires. This is not the case with a third generation solar cell, which is essentially a self-sufficient electric generator that can work independently. This makes them easier to manufacture and install and, as a result, cheaper to purchase.
The Advantages Of A Third Generation Photovoltaic System
For those who use solar energy, the advantages of a third generation photovoltaic system are many. Not only do they provide an efficient and cost-effective way to generate electricity, but they are also easier to use than conventional methods. The reason for this is that they are mobile and can be placed anywhere. For homeowners who are seeking a more convenient and less permanent method of generating power, mobile third generation photovoltaics are the clear choice.
Even those who live in a remote area and don’t have access to regular electricity can generate their own power using solar energy. Since a third generation photovoltaic system uses a semiconductor material, almost any type of climate can be supported. This makes them suitable for use in both tropical and temperate regions. In addition, the panels function well in very dry and moist climates, so those who live in areas where it often rains or is humid can gain a lot from the use of these solar energy systems.
The Disadvantages Of A Third Generation Photovoltaic System
Although solar energy has many advantages, it does come with some disadvantages. One of the main disadvantages of a third generation photovoltaic system is that they are more complicated to install than traditional methods. This is because you will need an electrician to help you install the system, and you will have to take the time to learn how to operate it correctly. In most cases, at least 2 people will be needed to operate a third generation photovoltaic system. This is in comparison to a single person operating a regular photovoltaic system.
Another disadvantage of a third generation photovoltaic system is their limited lifespan. Thanks to their advanced design, the lifespan of a third generation photovoltaic system is between 15 – 20 years. But even then, you will have to do some maintenance work every now and then to keep the system working at its optimal capacity. This is mostly due to overheating and melting down of the silicon cells as a result of prolonged exposure to sunlight. In most cases, this will require a technician to come out and service the system. So while solar energy is extremely reliable, maintaining a third generation photovoltaic system is pretty much a full-time job.
So, if you want to generate your own power without having to worry about the fluctuations of the electric company, a third generation photovoltaic system is a great option. But if you want your power to last for longer, you should consider buying a more permanent solution such as a solar pond, which we will explain in detail later in this article.
The key takeaway from this article is that the market for third generation photovoltaics is on the rise, thanks in large part to the development of new, more efficient and cost-effective methods of generating electricity, especially in light of the diminishing supply of fossil fuels and increasing demand for clean energy. The days of relying on traditional power sources are over, and those who use solar energy gain a lot from third generation photovoltaics, which make them easier to use, transport, and maintain.
So, if you want to go green, why not consider investing in solar energy as a cheap and easy way to generate electricity? You will not be disappointed.