The major challenge in making solar cells more cost-competitive in the green electricity market, is to improve their energy conversion efficiency. There is a still a long way to go in this regard, and a lot of work is being done in research labs around the world to develop better technologies.
At the same time it's important to remember that regardless of how good a solar panel is, it must directly face the sun in order to maintain optimal output. And that is exactly what the Danish company Linak can provide, reports professional journal Ingeniøren (The Engineer).
Linak makes linear actuators – basically devices which turn rotational movement into linear movement – and has developed 'solar tracking' systems which allow a solar panel to both tilt and track in order to exactly follow the path of the sun across the sky, and in so doing increase the energy output of a solar panel by as much as 30 per cent.
Linak's ambitions in the solar tracking area have been boosted by substantial sales of its actuator product to one of the major players in market, Germany's Lorentz. The company sees good future business prospects, but is aware of the need to make hay while the sun shines.
Linak's business development director told Ingeniøren: "We are not putting figures on it, but we know that now is the time to get going because there is no certainty that solar cell technology in 20 years will involve solar tracking systems. Perhaps solar cells will become films that are applied to windows and facades."