Saturday, July 05, 2008

Home Photovoltaic Systems for Physicists

Just in time for $150 per barrel oil, this is a fun and timely article by Tom Murphy in this month's issue of Physics Today. It deals with the setting up of a modest photovoltaic system to run a suite of appliances. But what is interesting is that it deals with it from the background of what a physicist know. We are not electrical engineers, and while we do know the physics of semiconductor, the practical aspect of setting up something that needs to work at this level isn't trivial.

It was with those concerns in mind that I decided to explore the practical side of photovoltaic energy: In 2007 I built a PV system to power my living room. Though reasonably well informed on the semiconductor physics of PV junctions, I felt unsuitably prepared to evaluate the practical realities of owning and operating a personal solar PV system. Because I believe physicists can play a role in our energy future that extends beyond the confines of advanced research, I want to share my experiences in the hope that others might develop home PV projects. What better way to motivate innovation in the alternative-energy sector than to get a talented pool of physicists engaged on a personal level?

A recommended reading if you don't get a subscription to Physics Today.


1 comment:

John said...

Thanks for this nice post. I just visited a website on plastic based material issues related to photovoltaic systems, leds and other renewable industrial applications. The link is:
composites materials forum.