Solar Energy Harvesting: How to Generate Thermal and Electric Power Simultaneously

Solar Energy Harvesting: How to Generate Thermal and Electric Power Simultaneously
Author(s):    Todd Otanicar; Drew DeJarnette
Published:   2016
DOI:             10.1117/3.2256722
eISBN: 9781510604940
Description:

This Spotlight describes energy harvesting using a hybrid concentrating photovoltaic (PV) system with simultaneous thermal generation for energy storage. Several designs have been proposed to build a system that takes advantage of the entire solar spectrum through direct electric generation using concentrated light onto photovoltaics while generating thermal energy using wavelengths of light not captured by the PV cell. This eBook addresses the current technologies and state-of-the-art designs, as well as the methodologies, underlying physics, and engineering implications.

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Increases in global energy demand have been caused by increases in population and industrialization. Demands for energy production and storage will only increase as time continues. However, the use of non-renewables increasingly pollutes the air, and these non-renewables will eventually run out. This has inspired the advancement of renewable and sustainable energy production and storage capabilities. One major issue with renewable energy is intermittent power generation due to natural changes such as wind speeds, nighttime, and ocean currents. Natural gas does have the advantage of being able to continuously provide an energy stream. Storage of electrical energy from sources such as wind and solar is expensive due to the large size and relatively inefficient nature of batteries. While advancements have been made and electrical storage has improved over the years, solar in particular is still too expensive compared to other non-renewables. As a result, photovoltaic (PV) cells coupled with batteries are not an economically viable alternative to coal power at the present time. For this reason, concentrating solar power (CSP) has been popular for storing solar energy in the form of heat that can be used to run a steam engine.

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