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Stanford University Develops Solar Panels that can Generate Electricity at Night

The device includes a thermoelectric generator that can generate electricity from the small temperature difference between the ambient air and the solar cell itself.

Shivam Dwivedi
Solar Panels
Solar Panels

A Stanford University team of engineers has created a solar cell that can generate electricity at night. The study comes at a time when the number of solar jobs and residential installations is on the rise. A solar cell is composed of two layers of silicon that have been treated to allow electricity to flow through them when exposed to sunlight.

While standard solar panels can generate electricity during the day, this device can provide a "continuous renewable power source for both day and night," according to a study published this week in ‘Applied Physics Letters.’

Innovative Tech:

The device includes a thermoelectric generator that can generate electricity from the small temperature difference between the ambient air and the solar cell itself.

"Our approach can provide night-time standby lighting and power in off-grid and mini-grid applications, where [solar] cell installations are becoming more popular," according to the study.

Mini-grid applications are self-contained electricity networks. These are useful when a population is too small or too far away to warrant the extension of the grid.

It wasn't until recently that the cost of solar energy began to fall and become much more affordable. Some businesses have joined the programme, and California has even subsidized the switch to solar.

As the war in Ukraine rages on, Abigail Ross Hopper, president, and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, the national trade association for the solar industry, told CNBC that investing in alternative energy sources is critical.

"In the face of global supply uncertainty, we must increase clean energy production and reduce our reliance on hostile nations for our energy needs," said the CEO. Renewables are expected to account for nearly 95 percent of the increase in global power capacity through 2026, with solar PV accounting for more than half of that.

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