Experts from Imperial College London have called on the
Writing in Nature Materials, the researchers argue that photovoltaics could be producing as much or more power than the nuclear industry’s current output before a new reactor could be commissioned.
However, in contrast to other developed countries, the
Lead author Professor Keith Barnham of Imperial College London said, “The UK is clearly taking a very different decision to its industrial competitors and, I believe, a less sensible one. The sun is our largest sustainable energy source and the technology needed to tap into it is very simple. As research continues, this will become an increasingly cheap and efficient way of meeting our energy needs.”
The article comes at a time when new-generation nuclear power stations feature high on the agenda of the government’s energy review. One obstacle to the development of a competitive solar energy industry in the
The next generation of photovoltaic cells, dubbed quantum well cells and now under development, convert direct sunlight and can track the sun to keep light focussed on the cell. Early testing suggests that these concentrated systems could produce twice as much electricity per unit area as the conventional systems now in use.
Barnham says, “These new cells are highly efficient and are based on technologies similar to those used for the amplifiers in mobile phones, so the ability to manufacture them on a large scale is already in place. This is the kind of technology the