- Recently, University of New South Wales (UNSW) researchers have made a major breakthrough in renewable energy technology by producing electricity called “night-time” solar power.
- The team from the School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering generates electricity from heat that is emitted as infrared light.
- The power generated is minuscule, about 100,000 times less than that supplied by the solar panels.
Solar panels are used as a tool that produces electrical energy from solar power. The electrical energy produced by these solar panels does not produce carbon emissions, so it is safe for the environment. This is also one of the steps to achieving the target of the renewable energy mix.
The sun, or solar power, is an important component in producing electrical energy from solar panels. However, electrical energy can still be generated by solar panels at night, when there is no sunlight. Recently, University of New South Wales (UNSW) researchers have made a major breakthrough in renewable energy technology by producing electricity called “night-time” solar power. This research has shown that solar power can be generated at night.
So, in a new study published in ACS Photonics, researchers used a thermoradiative diode, a semiconductor sensor. These sensors are found in existing technologies such as night-vision goggles. The technology is used to capture photons leaving the Earth along the infrared spectrum and convert them into electricity. Semiconductor devices called thermoradiative diodes, composed of materials found in night-vision goggles, are used to generate power from the emission of infrared light.
The team from the School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering generates electricity from heat that is emitted as infrared light. This is done in the same way that the Earth cools by radiating into space at night.
Although the amount of power generated by solar power “at night” is lower than during the day, it will be increased again in the future. At this stage, the power generated is minuscule, about 100,000 times less than that supplied by the solar panels.
According to Prof. Ekins-Daukes, the process in the end still utilizes solar power. This solar energy hits Earth during the day in the form of sunlight and warms the planet. In the future, it may be possible to combine photovoltaic devices and thermoradiative diodes for “night-time” solar power. At night, this same energy radiates back into the vast, cold space in the form of infrared light through a thermoradiative diode. This thermoradiative diode has been proven capable of generating electricity by utilizing this process.
Whenever there is a flow of energy, it can be converted to produce other energy, such as electrical energy. Photovoltaic (the direct conversion of sunlight into electricity) is an artificial process developed by humans to convert solar energy into electrical power. In the same way that solar cells can generate electricity by absorbing sunlight emitted from very hot sun, thermoradiative diodes generate electricity by emitting infrared light into a cooler environment. In both cases, it is this temperature difference that makes it possible to generate electrical energy.
The new breakthrough of research conducted by University of New South Wales (UNSW) researchers is an interesting part of the previous theoretical process. And it is the first step in creating specialized, and much more efficient, devices that could one day capture energy on a much larger scale. Ultimately, this “night-time” solar technology has the potential to harvest energy and eliminate the need for batteries.