In the last few days a story has come to light of a 13 year old boy called Aiden Dwyer who seemed to have come up with a way of arranging solar panels so that they become over 50% more efficient than the conventional ones that we have now. This would be a massive breakthrough in the field of solar energy, as it is the relatively low efficiency of solar panels, as compared to fossil fuels, which has been what has held it back from taking over entirely from non-renewable energy production.
The “Eureka” Moment
Dwyer had his “eureka” moment when he was out in a wood, looking at trees. He noticed the way that the bark spiralled around trees (in a pattern described by the Fibonacci sequence) and this made him wonder what the effect would be if solar cells were arranged in a similar way.
He did an experiment, and seemed to find that they would be 50% more efficient. This story has a sort of fairy-tale feel about it, an important discovery made by a bright young mind uncorrupted by conventional thinking. That it was inspired by nature is so much the better, as many of the practical technologies that we have now have been inspired by the way that the natural world solves problems.
However, the unfortunate thing about reality is that it rarely works in the same way that a fairy tale does, and it seems that such is the case here as well.
Does It Really Work?
Although everyone recognises that this is a very intelligent boy and the design and experiment is extremely impressive, upon detailed investigation in to the experiment, experts have shown that it is not what it first seemed.
The biggest problem, it seems, is that the efficiency was measured by the voltage alone, and not by the actual power output. In fact though, the voltage doesn’t really tell us anything about how much solar energy can actually be produced. And upon analysis, the experts suggest that it would not actually have shown a large output.
It seems, therefore, that this “breakthrough” is not actually going to work. Although it was conceded that, in the morning, the arrangement would increase efficiency somewhat. However it is in the afternoon that much of the solar energy is produced, and then it would not be effective.
Solar Power Developments
If nothing else, however, this story should remind us that we really don’t know everything, and that when new, bright minds work on a problem, it’s possible that they will come up with new, inventive solutions.
Indeed this is happening in the solar energy field more than in just about any other right now. There are more and more ideas about how solar power can be generated, and how it can be used to solve our energy problems. They might not always work, but as long as we keep looking, the developments will keep coming.
Solar Energy UK
At the moment, the best thing you can do regarding solar power is get solar panels for your home, and we can help. Get in touch for a free quote on a solar installation from our MCS accredited solar installers.