Electrically Conductive Plastics

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Instead of conducting electricity and producing light, as is done in flat-panel displays, electrically conductive plastics run in reverse - they absorb light and produce electricity. Conventional solar cells are relatively expensive. The low cost and inherent flexibility of the electrically conductive plastics mean that they can be deposited as coatings hundreds of times thinner than the silicon crystals used in conventional solar cells and can be used on a range of materials such as glass and roofing tiles. Efficiencies as high as 3-4.5% have been reported (1).


Environmental Impacts

Photovoltaics are considered to be among some of the most environmental friendly energy alternatives. Their operation produces no pollution, does not contribute to global warming, and is noise free. Although PV operation is generally clean, its manufacturing (and disposal) is associated with the production of some of the most toxic materials such as cadmium and arsenic. Furthermore, some fossil or other non-renewable energy sources are normally used during their production. With proper safety precautions, the total emission is, however, small as compared to fossil burning.


(1) Fairley, P, “Solar on the Cheap,” Technology Review, January-February 2002.

(2) Toossi Reza, "Energy and the Environment:Sources, technologies, and impacts", Verve Publishers, 2005

Further Reading

Markvart, T., and Castanar, L., Solar Cells: Materials, Manufacture and Operation, Elsevier Publishing Company, 2005.

Galloway, T., Solar House, Elsevier Publishing Company, 2004.

Stine, W. B., and Harrington, R. W., Solar Energy Systems Design, John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1985.

Solar Energy, Direct Science Elsevier Publishing Company, the official journal of the International Solar Energy Society, covers solar, wind and biomass energies.

External Links

National Renewable Energy Laboratory: Solar Research (http:// www.nrel.gov/solar).

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy: Solar Energy, US Department of Energy (http://www.eere.energy.gov).

American Solar Energy Society (http://www.ases.org).

Solar Electric Power Association (http://www.solarelectricpower.org).

California Solar Center (http://www.californiasolarcenter.org).