Replacing flat panels with three dimensional structures can significantly change the economics of solar power generation, say engineers.
The Sun sends some 87 Petawatts of power our way and converting some small fraction of this into usable power is one of the key battlefronts in the fight to free the world from its addiction to oil.
One way to do this conversion is to turn light into electricity using flat photovoltaic panels. This form of power generation is rapidly expanding all over the world.
But it suffers from various problems that prevent its more widespread adoption, particularly at higher latitudes where the amount of energy that can be converted varies dramatically throughout the day and by season too.
This variation can be mitigated by solar tracking mounts but these are expensive and potential points of failure.
Today, Marco Bernardi and pals at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge say there is a simple fix that could dramatically increase the performance of photovoltaics. Instead of two dimensional flat panels, Bernadi and co suggest using three dimensional structures.
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