Blog

Staying Cool in the Sun

Saturday, June 20th, 2015

Alta Devices builds highly efficient solar material. We’ve set world records for single junction cells at 28.8% conversion efficiency and dual junction cells at 30.8% efficiency under one sun (non-concentrated light).  This means that over a quarter of the light that lands on an Alta solar cell is converted into electricity.  However, efficiency measurements are made in a controlled environment.  We wanted to understand our true outdoor performance and asked the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to help us.

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Why Gallium Arsenide?

Saturday, June 6th, 2015

We are often asked why we use gallium arsenide (GaAs) to build our solar cells. It’s because GaAs naturally performs better at converting the sun’s energy into electricity than other materials under normal conditions. Further, GaAs solar cells deliver more energy in high heat or low light, two of the most common real-world conditions for solar cells! We have developed a way to manufacture thin, flexible layers of GaAs that utilize only tiny amounts of material but retain all of the performance benefits of a traditional GaAs solar cell. This allows the solar cells to be cost-effectively incorporated into a wide variety of end products, bringing our vision of “Solar Everywhere” even closer to reality.

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Solar in Any Form

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

What if you needed a wrench and when you tried to buy one, you found that they were all the same size? How many problems can be solved with a wrench of only one size?  Eventually, you would have to find other ways to solve problems and relegate the single-sized wrench to the class of projects that happened to be compatible. Much the same is true of today’s solar solutions: they come in one size (large, flat plate glass modules) and are suited primarily to the task of capturing the sun in large open fields.  But what about all of the other places where energy is either unavailable or not cost-effective? Solving that problem requires “wrenches” of different sizes, and even different shapes.  That’s how we think about solar solutions at Alta Devices.  The “one size” mentality does not fit all situation, and in fact, a wide variety of alternative forms are required to really address the potential for addressing the world’s energy needs in a cost effective manner.

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Efficient Solar Electricity, Hold the Subsidies

Monday, March 9th, 2015

We’ve always considered efficiency — a measure of how much of the sun’s energy is converted to electricity — to be the most important aspect of solar cell performance.  In fact, Alta Devices is founded on the basic principle that very high efficiency solar cells are the single most important lever in reducing the overall cost of solar electricity. This is because most of the costs of a solar power plant, including the modules, the land, labor, hardware and wiring are directly proportional to the physical size of the plant.  Given this large fixed cost, increasing the amount of energy generated per unit area decreases the cost of the electricity produced. Simply put, higher efficiency solar cells deliver more energy per unit area, dividing down the costs associated with the power plant and resulting in lower cost electricity.

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Alta Devices Solar Energy Technology – (em)Powering the Unplugged World

Monday, February 9th, 2015

At Alta, we believe that solar energy should be economically competitive with other sources of energy, without government subsidies.   We’ve developed a technology that we think does that.  Based on gallium-arsenide, our solar cells are thin, light and flexible and hold the world record for being the most efficient at converting the sun’s energy to electricity.  These are the characteristics that not only create an economically compelling source of clean energy, but also make it possible to capture the sun’s energy almost anywhere. (more…)