Podcast – Boron Solar Power and Energy Efficiency

May 20, 2022 | ADVANCED ENERGY, PODCASTS

Boron Solar Power and Energy Efficiency

Welcome back to the Borates Today podcast. Each week we cover a topic that is relevant to the industry and timely. We cover the latest industry news. Who are the key players in the sector? What are the latest trends, driving demand and supply for boron. What is the science behind boron and who’s doing valuable research into new boron applications and benefits?

We look at how boron helps in advanced energy, in food security, and in providing nutrition. So don’t forget to check out boron applications and benefits on our website borates.today.

In today’s topic, we’re going to talk about the future of solar and the role that boron plays in energy efficiency management.

As the world’s energy consumption continues to rise, we are looking for ways to make renewable energy sources more efficient. Energy transition is a hot topic these days and one way that scientists have been working on reducing our dependence on fossil fuels has been through developing more efficient and productive solar panels. Boron plays an integral role in the efficiency of solar panels. Without it, photovoltaic cells would not be able to convert light into electricity as efficiently.

The Future of Boron Solar Power and Energy Efficiency

First of all, what are photovoltaics? A photovoltaic cell is a device that converts sunlight directly into electricity. The most common type of PV cells as they’re known are made from Silicon. So they’re often called silicon solar panels or just solar panels. They are an exciting way to power homes without relying on fossil fuels and also to collect energy for the grid.

It has been shown that it can be used in areas where the sun shines for more than six hours per day, like Southeast Asia, or Central America.

Solar panels use a semiconductor material to capture light and convert it into usable energy. Two different types of solar cells are used in these materials, amorphous Silicon or thin film deposition. Photovoltaic cells made with either substance require boron for the conversion process.

Boron can be added as an anti-reflection coating on top of the photovoltaic cell surface, increasing its reflectivity. This reduces losses from sunlight that doesn’t pass through or it can be mixed in when manufacturing solar cells themselves, so that they include born atoms within their crystalline structure instead of just on top.

The P-type and N-type Silicon in the solar cell is created from an atom with one less electron that is required to form bonds with surrounding atoms.

The hole left behind by this missing electron means that there is always a supply of electrons on the outer energy level, which enables them to move quickly across any potential barrier between semiconductors or even over small distances within the same layer where they can collide or combine and produce light.

P-type Silicon is usually made with the help of boron or gallium. However, boron is increasingly being preferred over gallium, making it the go-to option for doping.

How can we better understand energy transition?

In energy transition, there is a transformation of the global energy sector from fossil-based systems to renewable sources taking place. But this has not been without its challenges. As investors and companies seek greater clarity and accounting for long-term climate risks and opportunities with sustainable business strategies, businesses are adapting by implementing new technologies that enable this change.

Energy transition has been a long time coming. Fossil fuel use for energy generation was the only option available to humanity up until 1839 when James Watts introduced his invention, the first practical steam engine that more than doubled efficiency from its predecessors.

Even though this made coal widely used as an energy resource, it wasn’t until much later in 1898, when Rudolph Diesel invented diesel engines, which followed suit with even greater efficiencies over time, fueled by oil instead of coal.

When energy transition is ready, we can expect major changes to our society. Transportation will run on renewable fuels. This energy transition is a worldwide movement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the use of renewable sources and increase efficiency.

What can Boron Solar Power do for Energy Transition?

Since boron has many more uses in different industries, it’s essential to ensure we have enough borax available when transitioning away from fossil fuels. As power grids move towards using less coal and natural gas as energy sources, society will need to rely on other sources like nuclear power plants and renewable energies, including wind turbines and photovoltaic devices. All these renewable energy sources and technologies involve boron.

Building new factories for these materials could take years. However, boron is already readily available with plenty of reserves to make up the differences in energy production in the transition away from fossil fuels.

It can also be used as a building block for other industrial materials like glasses or ceramics, which will allow it to reach markets that were not accessible before, without affecting its primary use within photovoltaic devices.

How does energy efficiency work? Well, today solar panels have been typically made out of silicon, which is expensive and requires lots of time and resources, built to order by specialized teams of scientists and engineers.

Energy efficiency is achieved by using boron in solar PV cells because it can be manufactured at a lower cost and without the specialized equipment, making for an easier transition to renewable energy sources.

Energy companies are now looking into how they can use boron to make better-performing PV cells going forward.

The benefits of using boron in solar energy are multifold. In a world of ever-increasing demand for energy, there’s no shortage in the amount we need to produce. Boron has the potential benefits, when used with solar cells, to absorb electrons from photons during exposure before transferring them onto an electron acceptor.

It also increases efficiency because converting sunlight directly through borosilicate glass panels leads to less heat being generated than traditional silicon PV technology. This cycle would solve the long-range transport and storage problem, which are two critical issues of prospective solar energy economy.

Alternatives such as nuclear energy still have drawbacks. So solar energy is one area where we can make some real progress by increasing the energy efficiency.

We can say that boron can bring a bright future to solar energy. It’s going to be instrumental in de-carbonization and help PV cells reach new energy efficiency heights. And with increased focus by the EU by procuring more and more rare earth metals such as boron, 📍 the move towards energy transition will gradually help foster progress in reaching the lower carbon emission targets.

And that’s all for today. For more information on boron solar power and energy efficiency, please refer to Borates Today. Thanks for listening.

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