By Kenneth Zweibel
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Extra resources for Harnessing Solar Power: The Photovoltaics Challenge
All PV modules lose a small amount of efficiency with increased temperature. 2% loss per each degree Fahrenheit is expected. The operating temperature of a PV module is the temperature of the cells themselves, which can be quite high (over 110° F) since they are terrific absorbers of sunlight. A PV module that is 15% efficient at 80° F might be 14% efficient at 110° F. Concentrators, which are usually located in the desert, suffer from higher ambient temperatures and higher operating temperatures (140° F).
It is also very likely that PV module costs will be lower than those we assume. This is based on the fact that the cost of the materials going into PV modules is significantly less than the cost we assume, yet in most mature industrial products cost is very similar to the sum of total materials costs. So despite the fact that we are optimistic about the future of PV, we are not even close to pushing up against theoretical limits in our assumptions. In 30 years, our cost estimates will probably seem stodgy and shortsighted.
We find that 60 km2 (23 mi2) of PV would provide the energy of a nuclear plant. 7 mi) in radius. That's only 4400 m in radius! To offset a nuclear power plant-with one kilowatt-hour ofPV for each kilowatt-hour produced by fission. This kind of land might be available at, say, the new Denver airport planned for the 1995 time frame. Denver has purchased about 180 km2 of land for the airport. Useless scrubland between runways would certainly be enough for a few billion kilowatt-hours of PV electricity.
Harnessing Solar Power: The Photovoltaics Challenge by Kenneth Zweibel