Energy from photovoltaic systems has seen great growth in recent years. Despite this, the energy coming from the sun represents only 1,5% of the total energy used by Europe.
The reasons why this percentage is so small are several: holidays supply energy due to weather conditions, difficulty in storing the energy produced but also solar panels that have a high cost.
For this reason, researchers at the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology, based in Nesatel, are testing new technological models that can lead to an increase in the solar energy we consume.
They use, in fact, less expensive materials that reduce costs and new technological innovations that can lead to greater absorption of sunlight.
Claudio Rocco, Euronews envoy to Nestelle, asked the manager of the photovoltaic center, Kristof Balif:
"Here we have two solar panels. One is older technology, while the other is modern. Can you explain the difference? "
"There are two fundamental differences. One is visible, the other is not. The visible one is this: you can see here in this collector, three copper lines, which help us to get the current. There are also several lines of silver. But we have more copper lines than silver, resulting in a 5% reduction in production costs. This is the first difference. The second is invisible. At this point, we added a nanometer layer of silicon, which raises the voltage by 15%, so there is a 15% higher efficiency," replied Balif and added:
"Another advantage is that if you place this new generation of solar panels in the sun, they are warmed up. Performance is lower than this type of panel, but it means we produce more kilowatts per hour. "
After construction, the next important step is to check the strength of the solar panel. This is the hail test. Comeye4 cm diameter ice cubes, created by a special freezer, fall on the solar panel at a speed of 27 meters per second. This is a way of controlling the strength of the panel as well as the thin silicon layer, while the electrical capabilities remain the same.
Then test the strength of the solar panels to lift heavy loads. These metal bricks weigh each 12,5 pounds stacked in such a way as to withstand strong winds and heavy snowfall. These tests make it possible to select the right materials.
“Besides the reliability tests, we also do electrical efficiency checks, which are very important because they allow us to calculate how much energy the panel is producing. This data is of great interest to us. To use them, we have light tables, like the one you see behind me, which replicate solar radiation and allow us to measure the electrical efficiency of the panel. The measurement allows us to understand if there is a manufacturing problem, particularly with regard to the electrical connections," explained Laure-Emmanuel Peret, from the research team at the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology.
"Solar panels are often accused of being bad. Researchers at Neastel have created this panel, termed "terracotta". It has a color that fits most of the tiles we find on the roofs of European homes, "says Euronews envoy Claudio Rocco.
Scientists believe that the new technologies which are more efficient and less expensive will help to significantly increase the market for solar panels and photovoltaics. The research carried out at Nesatel is not exclusively at the theoretical level, as the scientists there collaborate with companies from the industry, so as to supply the market with new types of solar panels.