Spectrum's April 2008 feature on growing dis-ease within the community of researchers developing plastic solar technology -- "Solar Cell Squabble" -- is itself featured today in a leading podcast on renewable energy. The story laid bare widespread concern over the possible mismeasurement of performance of the potentially cheap and flexible organic photovoltaics. An interview on the story behind the story tops the weekly Inside Renewable Energy podcast published by RenewableEnergyWorld.com.
Organic PV researchers concerned by the measurement controversy's impact on their field are organizing to keep the issue on the front burner. UCLA organic pv expert Yang Yang and Christoph Brabec, a senior scientist at organic PV developer Konarka Technologies, organized a session on "Accurate Measurement of the Efficiency of Organic Photovoltaic Devices" for the upcoming conference SPIE Optics + Photonics (see Session 5 under the Organic PV track). This annual meeting of the International Society for Optics and Photonics will take place August 10-14 in San Diego.
Yang estimates that the organic PV field has overstated performance by about 30% through inattentive handling of light sources with a different color balance from sunlight. He says testing very small cells has inflated results by another 20-40%. He says it's inevitable that, without change, the field's credibility will be burned. "We need to take care of this issue before it is too late," says Yang. "In fact, it is already late."