Are Anti-solar Panels More Effective than Radiative Cooling?

The comparison became popular after a research paper published in Applied Research in Physics by Stanford University researchers. They said their anti-solar panel is more effective than radiative cooling. It can produce 120 times more energy, but Munday said it could produce 50 watts per square meter.   

Although they agree with the fact that the current system output is less than the requirements, it opens up a good opportunity to supply renewable off-grid electricity in underdeveloped areas.     

What are Anti-Solar Panels? 

The anti-solar panel is a concept of utilizing the temperature difference between two devices. It uses a thermoelectric generator that produces power with the help of a transparent panel.  

In a paper published in the journal ACS Photonics, Jeremy Munday, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UC Davis, explained the system of an ‘anti-solar panel.’ It is a new type of panel that works in the opposite way of traditional solar panels.  

“A regular solar cell generates power by absorbing sunlight, which causes a voltage to appear across the device and for current to flow. In these new devices, light is instead emitted, and the current and voltage go in the opposite direction, but you still generate power,” Munday said. “You have to use different materials, but the physics is the same.”  

 

Are Anti-solar Panels More Effective than Radiative Cooling?

What is Radiative Cooling? 

Radiative cooling is a concept of heat radiation in a cloudless sky at night. It happens in human skin to surrounding objects. It is a popular concept among astronomers because all the objects on Earth release heat at night. Anti-solar panels use this concept to generate electricity. 

Want a Proof? 

You can realize this concept by the following methods: 

  • Under a cloudless night sky, look straight up at the sky for a few minutes. 
  • After that, place a sheet between the face and the sky. You can feel that the sheet of paper releases heat to the face and the sky.  

This mechanism is also applied in black ice or frost formation under a clear night sky when the surrounding temperature does not fall under zero degrees Celsius.  

My Opinion 

As I am studying the concept of anti-solar panels, I read regular news and updates about the system. As far as I understand, anti-solar panels use the concept of radiative cooling by using an aluminum panel.

At night when the aluminum panel radiates infrared rays, the transparent solar panel isolates the rays to produce electricity. Anti-solar panels use radiative cooling more effectively to generate renewable off-grid electricity. It uses mercury alloy-based thermo-radiative cells instead of photovoltaic cells used in solar panels.  

If it is a great idea, then why experts are not releasing the product in the market. Indeed, the method has some limitations.

2 Limitations of Anti Solar Panels

It is a new concept that was published in 2020. It is in the research and development stage, but researchers have found a good opportunity to revolutionize the solar industry.  

  • The limitations of the system are the thermoelectric generator is costly.
  • Anti solar panels may not be effective in the daytime. 

On the other hand, if you use a solar panel, it is effective in the daytime but does not work in an optimal state at night in the absence of sunlight.  

Can Anti-solar Panels Light up Cities during the Night?

Interesting Idea! Need Blends of Both Systems?

I think it will be a good idea if research and developers find an amalgamation of these two concepts, which will be cost-effective but supply 24/7 off-grid electricity. 

I understand it may not be cost-effective at the first stage of development, but it will be alright because if I install solar panels, I have to buy solar batteries to save electricity for the night. It needs a huge upfront cost, but if the two systems merges, it may not be costlier than the cost of solar panels with batteries. 

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