Photovoltaics: Towards Panels That Are Efficient Day and Night

Photovoltaic energy is one of the most widespread renewable energies worldwide, as it can be used by private individuals on small areas with relatively simple installation, maintenance and use equipment.

However, current photovoltaic panels have two constraints: their output remains limited, and their operation is limited to a few hours a day. But according to Jeramy Munday, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of California-Davis, it would be possible to create panels that operate day and night, without interruption.

According to him, such panels using thermoradiative cells could thus produce up to 50W of energy per square metre at night, i.e. 25% of daytime production.

These new types of panels would harness sunlight during the day and then function as a night heat exchanger by playing with the Earth’s heat and using the night sky as a heat sink. Hot objects tend to emit heat in the form of infrared radiation: by directing the solar panel towards the sky, the solar panel will radiate heat.

The thermo-radiative cells built into the panel generate energy by radiating heat to the outside, thus taking advantage of heat transfer to generate electricity.

This would allow these panels to operate continuously, day and night, storing more energy than traditional panels.

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