Solar Technologies

Assessments of various solar energy technologies, including photovoltaics, solar thermal, concentrated solar power, storage, and state-of-the-art solar technologies.

An organic solar cell uses organic electronic materials to convert sunlight to electricity through the photovoltaic effect. Organic materials simply means that they contain the element carbon whereas most commercially available solar cells do not contain...
Perovskite (calcium titanate) cells are a particularly promising new solar technology. Most conventional solar cells use crystalline silicon, but perovskite is the building block material for these new cells. They can be made into stand-alone solar cells...
Quantum dots are tiny crystals of semiconductor material, roughly 2-10 nanometers, containing only hundreds to thousands of atoms. They have the potential to capture energy from sunlight photons much more efficiently than conventional crystalline silicon...
As with any energy conversion process, there is a physical limit for the photovoltaic conversion process. The theoretical maximum efficiency for a crystalline silicon solar cell – a commonly used type of solar cell – is about 29 percent. The theoretical...
Passive solar heating, also known as passive solar design, takes advantage of a building’s architectural design to store and distribute solar energy in the form of heat. These buildings distribute heat throughout the structure in the winter months but...
Concentrated solar power (CSP) technologies convert sunlight to heat energy. Much like conventional power plants, CSP technologies then use heat energy to generate electricity. There are three main types of commercialized CSP plants, which primarily...
Photovoltaic (PV) systems directly convert sunlight into electricity. The PV effect is the process from which light (photons) is converted into electric current. Different PV technologies have different efficiencies. There are 3 main classes of...
Both solar air and solar water heaters convert sunlight to heat, and both can be divided into active systems, which operate with the help of pumps or fans, or passive systems, which do not.
There are many different technologies to generate electricity from solar energy. Most of them fall into two main categories: photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP) systems, which each harness solar energy in very different ways.
Today, solar energy provides less than one percent of the world's energy, but that share could grow considerably with the right public policies and continued price reductions.
Solar energy is broadly defined as the total energy that the sun radiates through visible light and other unseen electromagnetic waves. Solar energy systems refer to any technology that converts the sun’s energy into another form of energy, such as heat...