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Solar Concentrators

July 29, 2008

New technology could make solar panels far more cost-effective.


More powerful solar power. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Solar power is a great idea, but solar panels are expensive. Now, a new technique could drive down the cost. MIT electrical engineer Marc Baldo and his colleagues have developed a transparent dye that can be coated on an ordinary glass window. The dye collects sunlight and then re-focuses it onto solar cells around the window’s perimeter.

MARC BALDO (Massachusetts Institute of Technology):
You’ll get slightly less efficiency – if everything else is held the same – but hopefully save a lot of money by using a lot less solar cells.

Right now, you need big, expensive mirrors that track the sun throughout the day to get the same effect. Baldo says the system can potentially focus a hundred times more light onto a solar cell than direct sunlight would. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.