Stanford engineers create a solar panel that can generate electricity at night : NPR


Farmland is seen with standard solar panels from Cypress Creek Renewables, Oct. 28, 2021, in Thurmont, Maryland.

Julio Cortez/AP


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Julio Cortez/AP

Stanford engineers create a solar panel that can generate electricity at night : NPR

Farmland is seen with standard solar panels from Cypress Creek Renewables, Oct. 28, 2021, in Thurmont, Maryland.

Julio Cortez/AP

A team of engineers from Stanford University has developed a solar cell capable of producing electricity at night.

The research comes at a time when the number of solar jobs and residential installations is increasing.

While standard solar panels can provide electricity during the day, this device can serve as a “continuous source of renewable energy day and night”, according to the study published this week in the journal Letters of applied physics.

The device incorporates a thermoelectric generator, which can draw electricity from the small temperature difference between the ambient air and the solar cell itself.

“Our approach can provide nighttime emergency lighting and power in off-grid and mini-grid applications, where [solar] cellular facilities are growing in popularity,” the study says.

Mini-grid applications refer to independent power grids. These can be used when a population is too small or too remote to extend the network.

Only recently has solar energy come down in price and become much more affordable. Some companies have joined the program and California has even encouraged the switch to solar.

As the war continues in Ukraine, Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, the national trade association for the solar industry, told CNBC it was important to invest in energy alternatives.

“In the face of global supply uncertainty, we must increase clean energy generation and eliminate our dependence on hostile countries for our energy needs,” the CEO said.


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