First Solar Panel that can Generate Electricity at Night
First Solar Panel that can Generate Electricity at night
Researchers have managed to modify solar panels to generate electricity at night. Although production is lower, it would allow isolated sites to use low-power devices without relying on batteries. Solar panels are one of the main sources of renewable energy. Their biggest flaw is that they don’t produce electricity at night. Most often this production is mixed with other sources that offset this weakness, but this is not always possible for off-grid plants. Remote locations then have to rely on daytime charged batteries, which are expensive and have a limited lifespan. Stanford University researchers wanted to solve this problem by developing solar panels that generate electricity at night.
In an article published in the journal Applied Physics Letters, they describe their prototype, consisting of a standard solar panel to which they added a thermoelectric generator that makes it slightly cooler than the surrounding air. The thermoelectric generator uses this temperature difference to generate electricity. This technique generates only 50 milliwatts of electricity per square meter, an amount that may seem ridiculous. However, a classic installation on a 20-meter house would already generate one watt at night. The researchers believe they can double the yield with a few modifications, and estimate that the maximum theoretical yield could reach one to two watts per square meter. Their invention would enable island installations to do without batteries and produce enough energy to charge a smartphone or run low-consumption LED lighting.