Funding, Grants & Awards

Penn State Wins $2.9 Million To Develop Concentrating Solar Panels

Pennsylvania State University has won a $2.9 million grant to develop fixed-tilt concentrating photovoltaic panel that will provide significantly more solar energy than conventional solar panels.

Provided by the United States Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), the grant is part of $24 million in federal funding aimed at improving the efficiency of solar panels. Penn State's grant comes specifically from ARPA-E's Micro-Scale Optimized Solar-Cell Arrays with Integrated Concentration (MOSAIC) project designed "to develop a new class of concentrating photovoltaic technology to exploit the high efficiency of solar cells used in space for rooftops here on Earth," according to a news release.

Lead by Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering Chris Giebink, the "team will combine arrays of plastic lenslets and a novel translational tracking system to concentrate light over 400 times onto microscale, ultra-high efficiency photovoltaic cells all in the form of a standard rooftop solar panel," according to information released by the university.

The new panels will mostly use relatively cheap materials such as Plexiglas, allowing them to be manufactured and sold at competitive costs while perhaps doubling the efficiency of conventional panels.

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at jbolkan@gmail.com.

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