IBM Invents Dirt Cheap Solar Energy Using A Magnifying Glass

May 17, 2008 at 5:12 pm 3 comments

IBM_Solar_2_t.jpgSolar energy is child’s play. Just use a magnifying glass in the sun and you’re generating energy in a jiffy. It’s what scientists at IBM are doing. They’ve launched what they claim to be breakthrough solar energy which is among the cheapest solar solutions around.

The scientists say they create five times more energy by concentrating the sun’s power through a lens. One square centimeter of solar cell produces as much as 230 watts of energy, the most ever in solar techology.

Having only just pioneered the technology, IBM says it will now focus on commercializing it at an installation cost of less than two dollars per watt. The company believes that it should be possible to produce systems even cheaper than that. The reason that IBM is so confident about this is pure maths; by using a much lower number of photovoltaic cells and concentrating more light onto each cell, they’ll ultimately need less total materials than your average solar farm.

One major hurdle that IBM scientists have yet to tackle is temperature control. Due to the high sunlight concentration – light of the equivalent of 2,000 suns are concentrated- temperatures are also going to be extremely high. The scientists say they will borrow innovations from other IBM R&D staffers specializing in cooling computer chips.

This post also appeared on Triple Pundit, the new blog by Treehugger, to which I contribute freelance articles about the environment and business.

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Entry filed under: Green Economics, Green News, Green Scientific Discoveries, The Planet's Resources.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Minking Than  |  June 25, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    This is really interesting. I really would like to know how this goes. But for the efficiency increase, which they say is 5 fold, the technology is still using the same total area for capturing sunlight. So you still need large area of open space to capture light and additionally you will need to realign the lenses.

    Reply
  • 2. Fuller Moore  |  July 25, 2008 at 2:26 am

    Is it fesible to put huge satelites in Earth orbit carring magnifying glasses, layered. Example: each stationed exactly at the same orbit, just one out at 20,000 miles, 15,10, 5, and so on… directing the Sun’s rays through one to another, to the collector?

    Reply
  • 3. Fuller Moore  |  July 25, 2008 at 2:31 am

    Sorry for the typo dsylexia… “carrying”

    Reply

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