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How Solar Panels Can Work Well In Cloudy Places

Tower Bridge London

Let’s face it, some places in the world are a LOT sunnier than others, so are much better for generating solar power. For instance, the United States the Pacific Northwest is not known for its constant sunshine, and in Europe the UK and Germany are considerably cloudier than Spain and Italy. However, over the past few years a potential solution has emerged in the form of organic solar cells, or OPV (organic photovoltaics) .

Organic photovoltaics are made with organic semiconductors instead of silicon. OPVs are known to be more efficient than conventional solar panels at producing power in limited lighting conditions, like when it’s cloudy. In addition, OPVs can be 3D-printed, and big areas can be covered relatively quickly, as the embedded video demonstrates.

Compared to conventional solar cells, although less efficient, organic solar cells can generate power for a greater portion of the day. They do not depend on direct sunlight hitting them (at 90 degrees), but can take advantage of rays hitting them from multiple angles. On cloudy days there is certainly less sunlight hitting the earth, but rays still hit at multiple angles.

In particularly cloudy cities, organic solar cells could generate more power than conventional solar cells. The efficiency of OPVs has improved over the past few years too, from just 5 percent in 2008 to 12 percent in 2013. Conventional solar panels average around 15% efficiency, so even though the efficiency is lower, in coming years it may be well worth using this emerging technology in particularly cloudy areas of the world.

Image CC licensed by Vincent Lock
Via Mother Jones

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