MIT Energy Initiative

A great solar cell has to be a great LED: So what’s wrong with subsidized solar panels?

February 8, 2017 MITEI

A new scientific principle has produced record-breaking solar cells following Professor Eli Yablonovich’s mantra, “A great solar cell has to be a great LED.” These solar cells have smashed all efficiency records and are in commercial production. Nonetheless, the overhang of >60 gigawatts/year of subsidized, outdated, Chinese-silicon solar panel factories is blocking the scaling of the superior technology. Silicon solar panels are in line to provide about 10% of electricity, but the super-efficient technology can eventually provide almost all of the world’s electricity and fuel.

In the interim, the solar/LED symmetry will revolutionize thermophotovoltaics, the creation of electricity directly from heat, and enable electroluminescent refrigeration, a refrigerator in which light is the working fluid.

About the speaker, Eli Yablonovitch

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