2005/07/15: Yahoo: Danish Scientists Developing [Plastic] Solar Cell
COPENHAGEN, Denmark - Danish scientists said Friday they have built a new
type of plastic solar cell that lasts significantly longer than previous
versions and could pave the wave for cheaper solar power.
Plastic cells cost only a fraction of the more common silicon cells used
in solar-powered products, such as calculators. But plastic cells typically
are fragile and only last for a few days.
"Our new cell has a life span of 2 1/2 years, which must be a world record
for plastic cells," said Frederik Krebs, senior scientist with the state-owned
Risoe national laboratory, which presented its research Friday.
Some experts not affiliated with the project said the plastic cells wound
need to become more efficient before they could be used for consumer products.
The Danish scientists said they were using a more stable form of plastic as
the active substance in the cell, which converts energy from the sun's rays
The market price for a silicon cell is up to 5,000 kroner (US$00, euro675)
per square meter, while a plastic cell of the same size costs less than
100 kroner (US$5, euro13), they said.
However, plastic cells have relatively low efficiency as they only exploit
0.2 percent-5 percent of the sun's energy, compared with 12 percent-15 percent
for silicon cells.
"We have focused on durability and succeeded, now we will make it more
efficient," Krebs said.
Silicon cells are widely used in items such as calculators and watches,
and some houses get all their energy supply from silicon solar cells.
There are also solar-powered cars, but they are extremely expensive and
therefore not mass-produced.
"There's a huge demand for solar cells, and the silicon cell producers can't
meet the strong demand. With the new increased durability, plastic solar
cells should soon be competitive and appear on the market," Krebs said.
"People could for example have a strip of plastic solar cells on their
mobile phones instead of a battery."
Tom Markvart, head scientist at the solar research group at the University
of Southampton called the new research "a major development," but emphasized
there were still many hurdles before plastic solar cells would become
available on the market.
"Plastic cells still need to become more stable and have better efficiency,"
he said. "And maybe the answer to the solar cell of the future is a
combination of silicon and plastic, where you exploit the best of the two
The research will be presented at a solar cell convention in San Diego next
"We need a wake up call. We need it desperately. We need basically
a new form of energy. I don't know that there is one."
-Matthew Simmons, energy adviser for President Bush, May 23rd 2002
Energy Alternatives: http://www.autobahn.mb.ca/~het/energy/energy.html
H.E. Taylor http://www.autobahn.mb.ca/~het/
Organic PV. This got my attention. Considering the incredible variety of
organic molecules it seems there is a lot of potential in this line of
research. Here's a link one step beyomd the news report.
Notice how they carefully don't mention the efficiency of the new
long-life plastic cells.
Besides the usual yawn (another solar breakthrough, who would have
thunk it?), "Successful Durability" and "2.5 year lifespan" wouldn't
normally go together, would they?