Photovoltaic Cell Harvests Energy After Sun Goes Down

Stanford researchers report power generation from radiative cooling of a PV cell at night using a thermoelectric generator (TEG) module.


New research paper “Nighttime electric power generation at a density of 50 mW/m2 via radiative cooling of a photovoltaic cell” from Stanford, supported by U.S. Department of Energy and the Strategic Energy Alliance program at Stanford University.

“A large fraction of the world’s population lacks access to the electric grid. Standard photovoltaic (PV) cells can provide a renewable off-grid source of electricity but only produce power from daytime solar irradiance and do not produce power at night. While there have been several theoretical proposals and experimental demonstrations of energy harvesting from the radiative cooling of a PV cell at night, the achieved power density is very low. Here, we construct a device, which incorporates a thermoelectric generator that harvests electricity from the temperature difference between the PV cell and the ambient surrounding. We achieve 50 mW/m2 nighttime power generation with a clear night sky, with an open-circuit voltage of 100 mV, which is orders of magnitude higher as compared with previous demonstrations. During the daytime, the thermoelectric generator also provides additional power on top of the electric power generated directly from the PV cells. Our system can be used as a continuous renewable power source for both day- and nighttime in off-grid locations.”

Find the open access technical paper link here.  Published April 2022.

Sid Assawaworrarit, Zunaid Omair, and Shanhui Fan , “Nighttime electric power generation at a density of 50 mW/m2 via radiative cooling of a photovoltaic cell”, Appl. Phys. Lett. 120, 143901 (2022) https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0085205.

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