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Solar Energy Telescope

There has been a lot of research into making solar panels more efficient collecting the sun’s energy.  However, Roger Angel and researchers at the University of Arizona are tackling the problem of solar energy collection from a different angle.  The goal is to make solar energy as affordable as energy from fossil fuels at a $1/watt installed.

“We took a clean sheet of paper and designed a system with the goal of achieving an installed capital cost of $1/watt,” Angel said.The energy telescope is different from other systems in that it doesnt use a lens on every solar cell.  Instead, they are concentrating the energy of the sun through a ball lens.  After the light is concentrated in the middle of the ball, it is then emitted at about 400 times the intensity of the light going in.  The light is then channeled through optical funnels which concentrate the light again and evenly distribute the power.  The result light is 1200 times the geometric concentration when it hits the solar panels located behind the funnels.

“Other groups have used dish systems, but they don’t use the same type of optics to control the light at its focus,” Angel said. These optics allow more energy to be made using half the area of photovoltaic cells.  In most instances, the solar panel is the most expensive part of a solar array.  However, this is not the case with the solar telescope.  Consequently, high efficiency panels can be used in a smaller number more efficiently.

“Our goal is to have the first complete 20 kW energy telescope installed and operating by the end of the year,” Angel said. He recently received a $1 million grant that will be matched by REhnu, which will help him meet this goal and advance the technology.

via solarnovus

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