Think of all the appliances, gadgets, and tools you used today that used electricity. Can you think of one that did not require it? Our daily lives are becoming more modern, and with that change comes a demand for more energy. Also, even though the population growth rate is decreasing, the world population rises every day and as a result, electricity consumption rises with it. In 2005, the average world energy consumption was 2.3 kW/capita, which corresponds to about 15 TeraWatts (TW). At the projected growth rate seen in figure 1, by 2050, the amount of energy we would need for the global population would be 21 TW .
Currently, most of the energy provided comes from fossil fuels, which supply roughly 86% of the total energy required. Hubbert’s peak, which states that oil production follows a bell shaped curve, predicts that the peak of oil production will occur around 2020 . In order to keep up with the increase in demand for energy and a predicted decline in oil, the other energy sources such as natural gas, wind, and solar need to be advanced to take up the slack.
In the solar energy sector, one such advancement is looking promising : the V3 Solar Cell . The company that makes it, V3 Solar, claims that their product is able to generate over 20 times more electricity with the same amount of PV (Photovoltaic cells) than the industry-standard flat solar panels. Or it can produce the same amount of electricity as a standard flat panel with only 1/20th of the PV cells. It manages to do so thanks to a slew of new improvements – concentrating lenses, a conical shape, and “dynamic spin.” With its unique shape and rotating inner PV cone, it will be able to harvest the solar energy at all angles during the day and during any season. This is a large leap in efficiency over the flat panels, which are only able to harvest at maximum potential during specific times of the day, and at specific locations on earth where sun intensity is the brightest, as seen in Figure 2. If this claim is true, then the V3 Solar cell will be able to be installed at any location and provide a very cheap source of electricity, enabling many buildings to produce some of their own power.
Furthermore, the V3 is made up of two separate cones, with the top layer being a lens concentrator, and the bottom layer being the PV cells. The outer layer serves to focus the light no matter what orientation the sun is in, and to create a “cascade of electrons” to produce electricity. The spinning of the bottom layer also serves to evenly dissipate the heat created by the concentration lens, so less energy is lost due to heat (a significant problem of static, non-moving PV cells). In order to produce the spinning motion, a small fraction (roughly 1 amp) of the produced electricity is diverted to a motor and to reduce resistance, motion is assisted by a ring of magnets .
This idea is a new, novel approach to a PV cell, and if the claims made by V3 Solar prove to be true, and V3 Solar manages to design a mass production version, then this product will revolutionize the solar sector. Solar energy can be well on its way to becoming the next big thing and will have a good chance of supplying us when oil goes out.