How Algae Can Boost Solar Panel Efficiency By 4%?
Algae are one of the best sources of bio-mass for a sustainable energy future. A pioneering new company has developed an innovative method of harvesting algae in the water to fuel the next generation of solar cells.
The Swedish team has launched a pilot production facility to manufacture an algae product that could improve the efficiency of silicon solar modules by 4% and of thin films by 36%.
In silicon-based modules, the algae are added to the encapsulant, whereas in thin film modules, they are applied to the anti-reflective coating on the glass. The team predicts that the cost savings for the modules would be 3.9%.
A Swedish company called “Swedish Algae Factory” has developed a new type of material called “Algica” that can improve the efficiency of silicon and thin film solar panels.
The team grows diatoms, single-celled photosynthesizing algae, as part of its “Sunalgae Life Project” in order to collect their shells, which are said to have special light-manipulating abilities, including the ability to block ultraviolet (UV) light. Then the shells are added to the silicon module’s encapsulant or the thin film module’s anti-reflective coating on the glass, according to Swedish scientists, which might increase their efficiency by 4% and 36%, respectively.
According to the team’s website, these improvements were “measured in suggestive flash tests carried out by external institutes,” including the Chalmers University of Technology.
The algal shells ought to slow down UV radiation’s gradual deterioration of solar panels over time. The team predicts that compared to currently available panels, the resulting modules would be 3.9% less expensive.
A €4 ($3.99) million investment was needed for the Sunalgae Life project, with funding provided in part by the European Union. Commercializing algae-based material for solar panel application is one of its objectives.
The team has already opened a prototype plant in Sweden to start manufacturing the substance in bulk. The new factory is anticipated to produce 500 kg per year, followed by 1,000 kg annually. The group has so far grown 30 kg annually in a greenhouse. According to the project website, “Material produced from the facility will be tested for reproducible efficiency enhancement in solar panels.” The production process, according to the team, is circular. “The material is manufactured in an environmentally benign method where value sustainable organic biomass is also produced, important nutrients are recycled, carbon dioxide is absorbed, and water is purified.”
We hope that you are are glad to know that algae can actually boost our solar panels by 4%, and this is one of the best ways to increase the efficiency of solar panels and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.