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Page added on August 30, 2007

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Reflective Mirrors Seen Raising Solar Potential

Reflective dishes may be the answer to make solar energy competitive with conventional sources of power, Israeli scientists say.

A global race is on to find energy alternatives as subsidies tip the balance in favour of renewable sources of power, which answer security and climate change concerns about fossil fuels.
New-found demand for one such renewable source, solar energy, has hoovered up supply of the silicon raw material, prompting a search for alternatives.

A team at Israel’s Ben Gurion University believe they have found just that, in a far less known material that is more expensive than silicon but also more efficient when used with a reflective dish.

“The dish could be put in a sunny backyard and generate most of the home’s utility needs,” said David Faiman, a professor of physics at Ben Gurion University who has studied solar energy for 31 years in Israel’s Negev desert.

“The costs per watt are comparable to that of a conventional power plant, but without fuel,” Faiman added.

In a research note earlier this year, analysts at Jefferies investment bank said that the alternative to silicon– called gallium arsenide — was still too expensive and at a very early stage, but that coupling its use with mirrors could cut costs.

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