German-French Team Claims Record Solar Efficiency of 44.7% (Solar v. LENR)

The following is an excerpt from a press release issued on September 23 by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in Freiburg, Germany.

“The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, Soitec, CEA-Leti and the Helmholtz Center Berlin jointly announced today having achieved a new world record for the conversion of sunlight into electricity using a new solar cell structure with four solar subcells. Surpassing competition after only over three years of research, and entering the roadmap at world class level, a new record efficiency of 44.7% was measured at a concentration of 297 suns. This indicates that 44.7% of the solar spectrum’s energy, from ultraviolet through to the infrared, is converted into electrical energy. This is a major step towards reducing further the costs of solar electricity and continues to pave the way to the 50% efficiency roadmap. . .

These solar cells are used in concentrator photovoltaics (CPV), a technology which achieves more than twice the efficiency of conventional PV power plants in sun-rich locations. The terrestrial use of so-called III-V multi-junction solar cells, which originally came from space technology, has prevailed to realize highest efficiencies for the conversion of sunlight to electricity. In this multi-junction solar cell, several cells made out of different III-V semiconductor materials are stacked on top of each other. The single subcells absorb different wavelength ranges of the solar spectrum.”

I found this press release interesting because it shows that there is ongoing progress in the rapidly growing solar industry. I have read a number of predictions that successful LENR production would mean the demise of the solar industry (and I have sometimes thought the same) but maybe is not as simple as that. At the moment we don’t know how long we will have to wait for LENR to start making a meaningful contribution, and if we are looking at a race between currently available renewables and LENR, the current alternative energy industry has a major head start.

Solar ‘grid parity’ (where the cost of solar energy, minus subsidies, is no more than electricity produced by conventional sources) is becoming a reality in many parts of the world, and there seems to be a growing momentum behind the proliferation of solar power.

There is a great deal of research going on in the solar industry today and much progress is being made in trying to harness the power of the sun. The industry is well established and the number of solar installations is growing rapidly. The price of producing photovoltaic cells is going down. Research is also ongoing in the field of energy storage which is an essential partner to solar (and other renewables) as a means to provide power when the sun is not shining.

Solar is being used increasingly for domestic power production and as far as I know there are no significant domestic safety certification issues to deal with as there are with LENR. There is tremendous financial and political investment in the solar and wind industries which could provide a great deal of inertia that LENR would have to overcome.

I am increasingly convinced of the reality and utility of E-Cat technology. Everything I have learned over the years and am currently hearing points to the fact that it is a major and highly important new discovery — but it will not appear in a vacuum. Andrea Rossi has consistently said that all energy sources will become integrated, with different sources being used where they are most suitable, and I suspect that he is right — at least for the near future.

  • Fyodor

    I think that everyone is being much too optimistic about the time frame for any potential LENR rollout and its impact.

    Even crediting Rossi with generally being true and accurate he has never really represented that he has anything that has even the reliability of a beta level industrial product. Can he turn it on and off ten times and get it to work each time? I have never seen him make any specific claims to this effect and I think that it’s very telling that for at least one of the third party tests he needed to start the reaction in advance. In fact it seems like he has implied repeatedly that a lot of his work with his partner is directed towards this (not yet obtained) goal.

    He’s also never claimed to have generated electricity at all.

    Once he’s achieved the above there’s the question of scaling. Can he make 500 that work the same way? 1000? People act like all of the above problems will simply be dealt with but there may be insurmountable technical barriers or extremely time consuming practical barriers. Is there any precedent for mass production of a device like this?

    Let’s say that over the course of the next 15 years he makes 10 million 20KW hot-cats (which I highly doubt). That’s 200GW of heat or 60GW of electricity. About 3 percent of today’s total.

    So whatever happens with solar it’s going to be unaffected by LENR. Even if Rossi is able to make a successful industrial product and mass produce it the time frame for any sort of real impact is going to be very long. And I suspect that in that time frame solar will continue to become cheaper and more ubiquitous.

  • Rob Lewis

    Even if LENR turns out to be viable, clean and affordable, there remains the issue of thermal pollution. It may (or may not) be better in this regard than conventional power generation, but this constitutes an environmental impact that shouldn’t be simply ignored.

    Wind and solar don’t have this problem (though of course they have other environmental impacts). Seems to me that a solar panel combining high-efficiency PV with domestic hot water production could be a winner, with LENR as a backup.

    • Omega Z

      Wind & Solar have a much bigger environmental Impact then anyone is telling. It’s just not Politically Correct to say so..

      As to the Heat generating. All existing systems including cars already do this.
      But, It is a valid concern. Nothing a lot of common sense can’t alleviate. oops? What’s that. 🙂

      Actually, we waste a lot of energy transmitting it long distances & with local Generating, (Micro-grids) this would actually require much less thus producing less heat.

      Another thing is to continue working the other end. Within 10 years all TV’s will be using far less Electricity. 25-watts verses 100’s-watts. My newer monitor uses 22w verses the old that used near 250w. No reason to not continue this. In fact, lower wattage use usually leads to longer Gadget life-cycles which saves more resources & waste of all types.

      The technology exists today to reduce the average home energy use by 75-90%. We just need to find a way to reduce the costs of these materials where there cost/benefit ready & start applying them. Sadly, there is not a lot of effort put into this. We need some innovative engineers to get busy.

      Just common sense.

      I would also add that the possibility may exist to have direct conversion to electric from LENR products without the heat or at least a reduced heat other then when needed for home heating. But this is likely years from now.

      As to Solar, I think if they get the efficiencies high enough, It would have a lot of potential in niche markets. I’m just thinking Cell phones tablets & such that never need plugged in. They will stay charged from the ambient light. If fact, considering all the gizmo’s this would be a huge market & reduce Grid energy requirements that much more.

  • Leonard Weinstein

    Solar, like wind has a flaw that still has not been solved. That is intermittent output. It is not the price of solar cells that makes the approach limited, it is storage. For solar, it is due to clouds in the daytime, and the fact there is a night time. There are two solutions for this failing. The first is to stay on the external grid, and manufacture more energy when the Sun is out, and sell it to the grid, and then buy some external energy at night or when cloudy, or just make what is needed when the Sun shines, and buy from the grid otherwise. This works when only a small amount of users are tied to the grid, but fails big when a large fraction of users try this. In this case the external generation capacity has to be so large to supply power when it is cloudy or dark, that generator stops and starts lower efficiency, and result in actual increased total cost,and result in a very poorly controllable system. The second method is to totally come off the grid, and use storage such as batteries or local generators to fill in. Unfortunately, this results in significantly higher cost for total use except where power costs are already far higher than places like most of the US. Nuclear or LENR do not have those problems. Highly efficient concentrator solar cells would be good for some uses, but not ever with respect to cost. Complex cells, along with the need for concentrators,and also the need for radiators make for a very expensive system. Efficiency is not the main factor for economy.

    • Iggy Dalrymple

      The 3rd option(solution) is batteries.

      • Leonard Weinstein

        Iggy,
        Read my full writeup. The second option was batteries or local generation. Batteries are much more expensive per kW-hr stored and delivered, over their life, than solar cells, and make the combination of solar cells and batteries much higher than typical central generation, even if the solar cells are cheap.

      • Iggy Dalrymple

        Sorry, I missed that…read it too fast.

        I’m betting batteries will improve, maybe as fast solar & LENR.

  • LilyLover

    This news made my day! 🙂 Thanks admin.

  • georgehants

    Still the U.K. government continues to build Nuclear.
    Why is not every new build house, factory, bus shelter etc. not by law required to be fitted with solar panels.
    Capitalism must be replaced with something at least half responsible.

    • Leonard Weinstein

      Nuclear and fossil fuel (especially gas and oil, but even coal) are presently the ONLY responsible energy sources. Also, if you can come up with a more responsible system than capitalism, please explain.

      • LilyLover

        Pretty soon, I’ll.

    • Charles

      I can’t quite interpret this. Are you saying that there is something “capitalist” about the UK government?

    • Iggy Dalrymple
      • Rob Lewis

        Reading the article it appears that the problems are incompetence and corruption, not socialism per se. The administration of George W. Bush provides a recent example of these problems in a capitalist regime.

        And then of course, there are places like Sweden where democratic socialism seems to be working rather well. As numerous surveys have shown, Swedes on the whole are healthier and happier than Americans. Just maybe not as “exceptional”.

        • Iggy Dalrymple

          A Scandinavian economist once said to Milton Friedman, ‘In Scandinavia, we have no poverty’. Milton Friedman replied, ‘That’s interesting, because in America, among Scandinavians, we have no poverty, either’. Indeed, the poverty rate for Americans with Swedish ancestry is only 6.7 per cent: half the US average (US Census).

        • Leonard Weinstein

          Anyone that thinks George W Bush was a good capitalist is confused. The best comparison of capitalism vs socialism is China. China is a communist country in name, but when the ECONOMY converted from pure socialism to capitalism, they went from abject poverty to giant growth. It is not what type of government (in name) that a country has that affects financial success, it is the type of financial market system. Sweden has a so called socialist government, but a strongly capitalist economy. Also, Sweden has a very small and nearly homogenous population, which is a totally different case than the US, which has a very large and diverse population (which has a profound effect), so quit talking about apples vs
          oranges.