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Title: An Assessment of Solar Energy Conversion Technologies and Research Opportunities
Keywords: solar energy
Issue Date: 2006
Abstract: The solar energy flux reaching the Earth’s surface represents a few thousand times the current use of primary energy by humans. The potential of this resource is enormous and makes solar energy a crucial component of a renewable energy portfolio aimed at reducing the global emissions of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Nevertheless, the current use of this energy resource represents less than 1% of the total electricity production from renewable sources. Even though the deployment of photovoltaic systems has been increasing steadily for the last 20 years, solar technologies still suffer from some drawbacks that make them poorly competitive on an energy market dominated by fossil fuels: high capital cost, modest conversion efficiency, and intermittency. From a scientific and technical viewpoint, the development of new technologies with higher conversion efficiencies and low production costs is a key requirement for enabling the deployment of solar energy at a large scale. This report summarizes the state of the research in some mature and emerging solar technologies with high potential for largescale energy production, and identifies fundamental research topics that are crucial for improving their performance, reliability, and competitiveness.
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