Optical Overlayer Innovation Doubles Efficiency of Residential Solar Panels

Insolight, a startup company based in EPFL's Innovation Park, has developed solar panels that could deliver up to twice as much energy as traditional panels. The company created a thin structure that directs the sun's rays to the small surface area of very high performance solar cells and the result is a highly efficient flat photovoltaic system. They introduce a prototype with a yield - the quantity of electricity produced from the light energy received - of 36.4%, while solutions currently available on the market offer throughput of only around 18-20%. The crux of the innovation lies in the microtracking system, patented by the startup, that captures 100% of the sun's rays regardless of the angle of incidence. The transparent plate, which is injection-molded, is equipped with an array of millimetric lenses, which act as a small network of magnifiers. It is moved several millimeters during the day by a metallic frame. This slight movement, which takes place in real time as a sensor detects the sun's position, maximizes the yield.