Solar power is all the rage these days when it comes to building green. And one group hoping to remain on the forefront of innovation is the Palo Alto Research Center or PARC, the storied research facility in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley.
In a recent display of “next generation” technology, PARC researchers’ unveiled new gadgets and gizmos boasting the latest technology poised to make a splash as they come to market over the next year or so.
One of the major “advancements” on display was a new way to collect and use solar energy. Instead of huge rows of solar panels now being used around the world, PARC has just begun to market a series of convex mirrors that focus sunlight onto small silicon chips. The physical space these solar cells require on a building is similar to conventional solar panels, said Nitin Parekh, a PARC director, “but they are 500 times more efficient than current solar panels.” The efficiency, combined with advances in manufacturing processes, also make the panels more cost-effective than current solar panels.