Solar panels that use microtracking technology to almost double the yield achieved by current sun-powered technology have been developed by a start-up offshoot of Switzerland's EPFL. Jim Drury reports.
Swiss start-up Insolight says its solar panels double the yield achieved by other sun-powered technology. In independent tests the panels reached an efficiency of 36.4 percent. SOUNDBITE (English) FLORIAN GERLICH, CO-FOUNDER AND CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER (COO), INSOLIGHT, SAYING: "Traditionally the market sits at around 18 percent and we can double this. Therefore we can double the return on investment for the final client....Our key innovation is that you do not need to rotate the panel in order to follow the sun. We can follow the sun in a flat manner, like any other solar panel, which makes it that our panel can be installed on standard rooftops, with standard mounting technology." Tiny square super cells capture all of the sun's rays, underneath round lenses, using a patented microtracking system. SOUNDBITE (English) NOE BORY, INSOLIGHT, SAYING: "Why micro? Why tracking? Micro is a really really small movement that is encapsulated into the solar panel and tracking is to track the sun to concentrate the light into our really tiny solar cell." An injection-moulded transparent plate moves one centimetre throughout the day, a small sensor detecting the sun's position. SOUNDBITE (English) FLORIAN GERLICH, CO-FOUNDER AND CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER (COO), INSOLIGHT, SAYING: "As you see here the small squares spread out over the whole surface and under each of these lenses there is a small solar cell. It's a bit like the lenses that you're using in your reading lenses or your reading glasses. It's the same technology, it's just a particular shape in order to be able to follow the sun from morning to the evening." The panels may be more expensive to buy than current technology. But Insolight says energy prices will be slashed from 14 US cents per kilowatt hour to 9 cents. A large bed of panels will be tested in Lausanne this summer. Insolight says the system could be market-ready next year.