Finding alternative, sustainable sources of energy is one of the major challenges facing our society today. Among existing options, solar power is abundant and emission-free, yet it has not been widely adopted. The most efficient, silicon-based solar cells are expensive to produce while new, cheaper technologies are still not efficient enough.
Three leading Canadian solar researchers discuss how to overcome these roadblocks. Whether it’s through engineering new, more efficient materials for light absorption or adapting existing materials to the task, the solar revolution is coming.
Nanomaterials Chemist University of Alberta
“When you think about solar energy, well, it just lands on the ground anyway. No harmful emissions, no CO2. In one hour, more energy is hitting than all of humanity uses in years. So the sheer volume and size of the energy that you can derive from the sun is sufficient to answer that question.”
Alternative Energy Engineer, University of Toronto
“We picture a world in which solar cells are so convenient, they’re on a carpet that you can roll out onto your roof, or they’re on a decal that you can stick on a side of a streetcar…
We need to understand how light – made up of photons – becomes electrons, the unit of currency of electricity in these materials.”
Alternative Energy Chemist, University of Toronto
“The new hotness is carbon. Make it lightweight, make it out of carbon, make it easy to mass produce and easy to scale up just like the plastics that we use all around us.”