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Experiment Launches 3D Solar Panel Installations

According to Jersey Electricity’s CEO, the solar panels that will soon be installed on the company’s roofs will generate enough power for four to five homes.

Chris Ambler, the company’s CEO clarified that it was still at the experimental stage but if it worked, more solar panels would be installed in and around the island.

Jersey, which is an island in the British Isles, is a very convenient location for solar panel installation, since it enjoys the most sunshine in the Isles.

He also explained that the price of solar panels has dropped, which is one of the main reasons why the experiment was possible.

“It is still emerging technology, the costs have been very high and it has only been over the past year that it has fallen in price in any meaningful way,” said Ambler.

However, the panels do need approval from the Planning Department before they can be installed on the roof of the Powerhouse building, St. Helier.

According to Anthony Pallot, Jersey’s Meteorological Officer, the island saw a bountiful 2,235 hours of sunshine in 2011. This comes in stark contrast with the 1,962 hours in Eastbourne, which enjoys the most sunshine in the United Kingdom.

In other news, in Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in USA, a group of researchers has developed 3D mounting techniques in photovoltaic cells which could increase the power output per footprint by up to 20 times as compared to fixed flat panels.

In the abstract of their article ‘Solar energy generation in three dimensions’, published in the online journal Energy & Environmental Science, the researchers have outlined the results of their experiment.

“Our findings suggest that harnessing solar energy in three dimensions can open new avenues towards Terawatt-scale generation,” reads the abstract.

Also developed by the team is the analytical software which can model various 3D configuration in a range of seasons, latitudes and weather conditions. This has been considered as more important than the successful models of the 3D mounts tested by the team.

“I think this concept could become an important part of the future of photovoltaics,” suggested the paper’s senior author, Jeffrey Grossman, who is also an MIT professor.

The 3D installations modelled by the team come in all shapes and sizes, from simple cubes to tall, slim towers which form the base for rows of photovoltaic cells.

The basic advantage of having 3D structures rather than flat panels is that they gather slanting sunlight much better in places far from the equator, during winter or morning/evening hours.

Although it does cost a tad bit more to install 3D solar installations as compared to flat panels, the cost is compensated by the substantial increase in power per unit of mounting area generated by them.





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