Optical tracking is often combined with conventional flat panel solar cells to maximize electrical power generation over the course of a day. However, conventional trackers are complex and often require costly and cumbersome structural components to support system weight. This may be a low cost innovative alternative
The following is a small abstract from nature communications. http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2015/150908/ncomms9092/full/ncomms9092.html
Dynamic kirigami structures for integrated solar tracking
- Nature Communications 6, Article number: 8092 doi:10.1038/ncomms9092
Here we use kirigami (the art of paper cutting) to realize novel solar cells where tracking is integral to the structure at the substrate level. Specifically, an elegant cut pattern is made in thin-film gallium arsenide solar cells, which are then stretched to produce an array of tilted surface elements which can be controlled to within ±1°. We analyze the combined optical and mechanical properties of the tracking system, and demonstrate a mechanically robust system with optical tracking efficiencies matching conventional trackers. This design suggests a pathway towards enabling new applications for solar tracking, as well as inspiring a broader range of optoelectronic and mechanical devices.
Conventional photovoltaic modules suffer optical coupling losses due to a decrease in projected area that scales with the cosine of the misalignment angle between the cell and the sun. To mitigate these losses and maximize power output, flat photovoltaic panels can be tilted to track the position of the sun over the course of the day and/or year. Depending on the geographic location of the system, and whether there are one or two tracking axes, conventional trackers can provide an increase in yearly energy generation between 20 and 40% compared with non-tracking solar arrays. Furthermore, tracking may be integrated with concentrated photovoltaic systems, where source alignment is critical for maintaining a high concentration factor over a wide range of source angles
The article is quite a long one and a great read. I thought it was a great introduction to many of you to this great journal.
Reference: Lamoureux, A. et al. Dynamic kirigami structures for integrated solar tracking. Nat. Commun. 6:8092 doi: 10.1038/ncomms9092 (2015).
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