Efficient Collection of Concentrated Solar
With the demand for energy in the U.S. constantly growing, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from our energy use is a tremendous challenge. Concentrated solar energy technologies would address these challenges because the sun is an abundant, renewable source that produces no emissions. Conventional solar concentration systems directly convert sunlight into electricity at the point of collection. However, there is an opportunity to identify new technologies that more effectively utilize the solar energy collected by the concentrating optics.
Project Innovation + Advantages:
The University of California, Santa Cruz (UC Santa Cruz) is developing an optical device that enables the use of concentrated solar energy at locations remote to the point of collection. Conventional solar concentration systems typically use line of sight optical components to concentrate solar energy onto a surface for direct conversion of light into electricity or heat. UC Santa Cruz’s innovative approach leverages unique thin-film materials, processes, and structures to build a device that will efficiently guide sunlight into an optical fiber for use away from the point of collection. UC Santa Cruz’s optical device improves the coupling of high-power, concentrated solar energy systems into fiber-optic cables for use in applications such as thermal storage, photovoltaic conversion, or solar lighting.
If successful, UC Santa Cruz’s optical device would increase the coupling efficiency for fiber-based solar energy systems by more than 60%.
Cost-effective solar energy would increase U.S. renewable energy use and help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
Replacing energy systems powered by fossil fuels would provide an immediate decrease in greenhouse gas emissions, of which electricity generation accounts for over 40%.
Cost-effective renewable energy alternatives would reduce fuel prices and stabilize electricity rates for consumers. Integrating these renewable technologies directly into buildings will reduce stress on the electric grid.