A mere few decades ago, solar energy was seen as a pet project of environmentalists, an advanced but expensive method of producing electricity that would never be viable for mass production. Fast forward to the present, solar power is booming. Since 2008, the amount of installed solar in the US alone has increased 17 times from 1.2 Gw to 30 Gw. This number is only expected to grow as solar becomes not only an environmentally friendly option but also one of the cheapest options for generating power. Innovative materials like advanced coatings can further spur the growth of solar by improving efficiency, giving both residential and commercial users more bang for their buck.
How Solar Panels Work
Understanding the benefits of advanced coatings requires a basic understanding of how solar panels work. A solar panel is made up of many linked photovoltaic cells. These cells, usually made of silicon, are divided into two layers with a positive and negative charge. The cells use photons from sunlight to knock free extra electrons from the negatively-charged end of the cell which passes to the positive end. This creates an electric current that can be harnessed in the form of electricity.
What Advanced Coatings Add to Solar Cells
Solar panels rely on photons from sunlight to work. The more sunlight the cells absorb, the more electricity they ultimately produce. An uncoated silicon solar cell with a glass covering will reflect as much as 30 percent of the sunlight without the photons ever reaching the cell. Advanced coatings, usually a thin film of silicon nitride or titanium oxide, drastically reduce the reflectivity of the solar panel, meaning the cells make more energy with the same amount of sunlight. This increased efficiency improves the sustainability of solar installations because each panel can produce more energy over its lifetime. As a bonus, the anti-reflective coating helps solar installations fit in with their surroundings and allows solar panels to be installed in areas near airports without the risk of the glare affecting pilots.
At Transcontinental Advanced Coatings, we are proud to play our part to bring the bright future of energy into the present. We are developing advanced coatings for use on solar panels as well as a broad array of products and services that touch on every aspect of modern life. Fill out our form to get in touch and learn more.