By applying transparent stickers to your solar cells, you can make them more efficient. Not just any old stickers, though, Genie Lens Technologies, a startup located in Colorado, has developed a polymer film embossed with microstructures that bend the incoming sunlight. By bending the sunlight, it allows the solar cells to absorb more light, thereby increasing the efficiency of the cells.
According to Genie Lens, these thin plastic sheets won’t cost much, and they can be applied to already installed solar panels. According to Seth Weiss, CEO and cofounder of Genie Lens, their stickers increase efficiency 3 different ways. The stickers lower the reflectivity of the solar panels so more light can be absorbed, they help trap light inside the solar cells, and they redirect incoming sunlight so that more light travels along the surface of the cell, increasing the chance that the light will be absorbed.
Tests performed at NREL (the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (part of DoE) showed average increases of between 4% and 12.5% for the cells. (At 10% improvement, a cell that currently is 15% efficient would yield 16.5%). The best improvement occurred when it was cloudy – that’s when incoming light is already diffuse and when solar cells tend to be the most inefficient. Genie Labs estimates that the cost of the film would add between 1% – 10% to the cost of the panels, but that they would more than produce enough electricity to justify the price. One big concern is over how long the film will last – Weiss says that their films will last for 20 years, but that hasn’t yet been demonstrated.