Stopping shadows from harming solar cells

Researchers at the Australian National University have come up with a new process that stops moving shadows from “cannibalising” solar cells and lowering the efficiency of the solar panel.

According to Professor Andrew Blakers, head of the team at ANU, moving shadows cause big problems with solar concentrator cells. “If a shadow from a stick, a leaf or a bit of bird poop falls across one cell in a string of cells, it can reduce the energy generated by that string of cells to zero.”

Since the electricity voltage bands run across the entire string of cell, the amount of energy produced is “set by the worst or lowest performing cell in the string.” A shadow falling across one cell can also lead to failure of the entire string of cells and the others “gang up on it.”

The new technology is simple, according to Professor Blakers, but it can maintain power even when shadows fall across a number of the cells in the string of cells. Ultimately, the technology should lead to more affordable solar panels.

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