The challenge in solar energy today is not the cost of photovoltaic (PV) electricity generation, already competing with fossil fuel prices, but rather utility-scale energy storage and flexibility in supply. Low-cost thermal energy storage (TES) exists but relies on expensive heat engines. Here, we introduce the concept of luminescent solar power (LSP), where sunlight is absorbed in a photoluminescent (PL) absorber, followed by red-shifted PL emission matched to an adjacent PV cell's band edge. This way the PV cell operates nearly as efficiently as under direct illumination but with minimal excessive heat. The PL absorber temperature rises because of thermalization, allowing it to store the excessive heat, which can later be converted into electricity. Tailored luminescent materials that support an additional 1.5 kW h PV electricity for every 1 kW h of (virtual) heat engine electricity with a dynamic shift between the two sources are experimentally demonstrated. Such an ideal hybrid system may lead to a potential reduction in the cost of electricity for a base-load solution.
- higherature photoluminescence
- hybrid PV/thermal
- rare-earth emitters
- solar energy
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)