Urban areas often have limited capacity to harvest solar energy

Project Insights

  • €246,574

    Total Project Costs
  • 3 yr

    Project Duration
  • 2018

    Year Funded

Project Description

This project aims to improve the sustainability and reduce the environmental impact of urban areas by exploring new approaches to solar energy harvesting. Solar cells need bright light in order to operate efficiently. In built up areas such as cities, the shadows cast by buildings reduce the ambient light levels, limiting the range of locations were solar panels can be installed. Greater urbanisation and increased building heights, limit the ability to increase solar capacity and to reduce a buildings carbon footprint. However, if diffuse or low intensity light can be concentrated onto smaller solar cells, the increase in performance will enable a much wider range of urban surfaces to be exploited for energy harvesting. Current fluorescence based methods to concentrate light are hampered by relatively low levels of efficiency, limiting their potential usefulness and widespread applicability. In contrast, nanoscale metal structures such as optical antennas can efficiently capture solar energy and transmit energy with greater control over direction. These attribute make them an attractive alternative to current solar concentration technologies. By focusing on the fundamental physics, antenna design, material properties and optical configurations, this project aims to explore the potential of large area optical antenna arrays to function as highly efficient solar concentrators. This exciting project could generate new and sustainable technology that facilitates our transition to a lower carbon society by enabling energy harvesting from a more diverse range of surfaces and in a wider range of lighting conditions.

Project Details

Total Project Cost: €246,574

Funding Agency: SEAI

Year Funded: 2018

Lead Organisation: Dublin City University

Daragh Byrne | Lead Researcher(s)