Conventional silicon photovoltaics is a non-starter in Antarctica because it is very poor at low angles of incidence of light let alone low levels of illumination or reflected light and it is heavy. Yet in the recent 'E-Base Goes Live' project in Antarctica a team spent more than two weeks relying exclusively on solar power and other forms of renewable energy to meet their energy requirements.
Dye-Sensitised thin film solar cells reel to reel printed using an ink jet - like process by G24 Innovations (G24i) provided a significant portion of the electricity used during the trip because they are very efficient in these conditions and very light weight. In space travel there is strong light but severe space and weight constraint on payloads so InGaAs multilayer thin films beat silicon hands down. Boeing Spectrolab is a leader here, working with NASA.
By contrast, in many terrestrial applications cost per watt over life is far more important than artificial measurements of efficiency in a laboratory. Here printed organic photovoltaics is an exciting possibility. For example, Andy Hannah CEO of Plextronics, one of the most exciting developers and sellers of appropriate organic materials says, "Plextronics technology enables companies to focus on scaled-manufacturing. Essentially, our inks enable improved performance with custom formulated, low-acidity conductive inks. These inks provide companies and researchers the world-leading performance and consistent supply required to focus on product commercialization, which is extremely important for our industry as a whole."
There are many other distinct sectors emerging in the burgeoning photovoltaic marketplace. Cadmium telluride thin film photovoltaics proves to have superior cost per watt over life and it is flexible and already ordered in billions of dollars for architectural use, yet printed copper indium gallium diselenide CIGS promises something better.
The subject is moving forward very rapidly with new principles and morphologies also part of the picture - from nantennas to inorganic nanowires and solar islands. All the above organizations and approaches will be covered in the unique conference Photovoltaics Beyond Conventional Silicon in Denver, Colorado June 17-18. Indeed, the subject will be brought alive by optional visits to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), legendary center of research and validation of the superlatives in the subject.
Another visit will be to Infinite Power Solutions (IPS) which makes the laminar batteries needed for energy harvesting with the new photovoltaics. imaging Technology international Corporation (iTi) is a leading industrial inkjet integrator and it will also host a visit exclusively for delegates.
There will be an exhibition, investors' forum, networking dinner and optional Masterclasses, none of them being encumbered by conventional silicon technology. This new photovoltaics is achieving the impossible in so many ways including creation of major new applications without need of subsidy to manufacturers or users.
See Photovoltaics Beyond Conventional Silicon for full details.