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Solar Technical Knockout Slams Big Oil

All the naysayers about Solar power have to bow their heads in shame because NASA just made them look stupid and closed minded. This month NASA enthralled the world of Renewable Energy with the announcement of a solar cell that has the potential to gather 50% of sun energy and changing the energy face of the world by making Solar power eg. sunshine the most cost effective and viable energy source on the planet!

The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) entered into a cooperative agreement with North Carolina-based RF Micro Devices RFMD) in 2009 to develop a commercial production process for an Inverted Metamorphic Multi-Junction (IMM) PV cell technology NREL had invented. After years of continued research, RFMD announced the formation of the group to push IMM commercialization forward. So while the debate has been going on over 20 years solar has been quietly gaining ground, but until this year it still was unable to get enough energy to make it a slam dunk choice against big oil and gas. That slam dunk has just shattered the backboard and its a new solar cell titled "Triple-junction solar cells with 39.5% terrestrial and 34.2% space efficiency enabled by thick quantum well superlattices" (journal Joule).

This news comes right on time as President Joe Biden announced he would ease tariffs on solar panel imports. The freeze is only due to last two years, during which Biden is hoping to build up a US solar manufacturing industry. His executive order authorizes the use of the Defense Production Act, a law designed to help the US win wars, to speed up production of solar panel parts. The federal government will further prioritize US-made solar panels in procurement and has called on state and local governments to do the same.

The new cell has an efficiency of 39.5%, up from the previous record of 39.2% efficiency, which was previously set by NREL researchers as well in 2020.This new technology will be one of the highlights of he U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® that announced the launch of the 2023 Design Challenge. The 2023 Design Challenge will help usher in the third decade of the Solar Decathlon, which continues to build the future clean energy workforce.

Students from collegiate institutions in the United States and around the world are encouraged to imagine the buildings of the future and apply! Team registration for the 2023 Design Challenge will open in July 2022 and close in October 2022; the next chance to join the Build Challenge will be in 2023. Mark your calendars and start gathering your team today!


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