Drawing Solar Panel Energy at Night

February 24, 2022

Solar panels work with help from the sun, which provides light converted to power. Photovoltaic cells absorb the sun’s energy, converting it to DC electricity, and a solar inverter converts DC into AC electricity to use throughout the building.

Optimism is growing around how solar panels can continue to generate a substantial amount of energy during nighttime. With widespread implications for solar panels of all kinds, this hybrid solar panel model could utilize daytime and nighttime power.

Dubbed NSP (Night Solar Panels), these novel panels were created by Tristan Deppe and Jeremy Munday from the University of California Davis. In their paper, “Nighttime Photovoltaic Cells: Electrical Power Generation by Optically Coupling with Deep Space,” the team points out the current drawback with solar energy only harnessing energy during daylight hours.

Their research shows that NSPs could emit radiation via infrared that would then create electron-hole pairs. Operating differently than conventional solar panels, NSPs still share some core elements.

Professor Munday said, “A regular solar cell generates power by absorbing sunlight, which causes a voltage to appear across the device and for current to flow. In these new devices, light is instead emitted, and the current and voltage go in the opposite direction, but you still generate power. You have to use different materials, but the physics is the same.”

For now, NSPs are not as powerful as conventional solar panels, but their 24/7 duration offsets that disadvantage. Munday and his fellow researchers are in the prototype stage. Soon they will convert their theory into a functional, live setting.

In developing nations where a high amount of sunshine shines bright, the opportunity for solar panels to provide a solution to communities is high. Solar power is low-cost, easy to install, and is long-term. There are plenty of third-world nations that do not have a lot of sunshine; NSPs would be a monumental addition to these areas. 

Though NSPs won’t be popping up today or tomorrow, the transformative effect they could have in the future gives a bright outlook to the possibilities.

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Written by the digital marketing staff at Creative Programs & Systems: www.cpsmi.com.