Scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory revealed that preliminary results of their underwater photovoltaic research point to the ability to harvest solar energy from near offshore locations in the future, at depths up to nine meters below the water's surface.
While most may assume this green energy source is restricted to on-land applications, the new research suggests otherwise. The research helps in identifying some of the technical challenges involved in harvesting solar energy underwater, namely matching the solar cell to the wavelength range so the collected photons can be successfully and efficiently converted to electricity.
The preliminary findings of the NRL’s research show that energy of approximately seven watts per square meter of solar cells can be produced at depths of nine meters, which Clean Energy Authority states is “much less than a conventional module in ambient conditions ... [yet] enough to power remote sensors and other autonomous systems.”
In addition, this research holds the potential to aid the production of underwater solar energy systems that can be used to provide power to marine research initiatives and benefit the production of underwater autonomous platforms.
In reporting on this research, Hydrogen Fuel News described it as further evidence of the government's growing commitment to solar power.