People from all over the world are seeking alternative energy solutions to help minimise their carbon footprint.
There are many different suggestions, but solar energy is always one of the most popular ones. The reason is that solar technology is relatively easy to implement for most people compared to other alternative energy sources like wind or water power.
Almost anyone can install a solar panel onto their home, business or school to help reduce their energy consumption from the power grid. However, while solar energy is more practical, it does have some drawbacks, but those drawbacks are becoming smaller thanks to game changers in the solar industry.
Improved storage: One of the biggest problems facing solar technology is storage, specifically, how to store enough power so that the technology can be used at night. An innovative thermal battery being developed by Curtin University is aiming to change that. The battery is being developed with United Sun Systems and ITP Thermal and the goal is that it will be able to store and release electricity 24 hours a day, meaning that it can work at night and when there is heavy cloud cover.
New technology: You’ve probably never heard of perovskites, but they are going to be the next big thing in solar panel technology. Currently, most solar panels use silicon, but when combined with perovskites - which are a type of mineral, they are able to convert even more of the sunlight into electricity. Thus, perovskites make solar panels far more efficient, meaning that solar installations will be able to produce more electricity with fewer panels, which reduces costs. That makes solar panels more viable on a much wider scale than ever before.
Further increasing the appeal of perovskite solar panels is the fact that they are more efficient in the shade, on cloudy days, and even inside. Better still is that perovskite solar panels can be made to be as thin as wallpaper, which reduces weight and increases their flexibility. That means perovskite solar panels could theoretically be wrapped around entire buildings, which means that they could make the future of solar technology a lot brighter and a lot more practical.
Sunflower concept: Traditional solar panels typically convert a rather disappointing 22 percent of the light they capture into energy. Part of this is because, as they are angled in one direction, they only receive sunlight during certain hours of the day. However, researchers from the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore have come up with a revolutionary new design to solve the problem of 'fixed' direction. Rather like a sunflower that tilts its head to follow the sun, the new solar panel design tilts on its axis to follow the path of the sun and, as an added bonus, also captures reflected light off the ground on the underside of the panels.
The new panels capture 35 percent more energy than immobile single-panel systems and are 16 percent more cost-efficient. The team thinks this new solar innovation will take over the market very shortly, so don’t be surprised if you see the solar panels in your neighborhood moving around of their own accord in the near future.
Concentrated solar power: Concentrated Solar Power, or CSP, works by concentrating the heat from solar energy. The heat is then used to boil water, which of course produces steam; the steam is used to propel a turbine that is connected to a generator, which then produces electricity. This is a different process than traditional solar panels, which use photovoltaic cells to convert light into electricity. Solar panels are still a better choice for residential homes because CSP systems require a lot of land with direct access to sunlight, so they are impractical on a residential level.
However, CSP systems do make for a more efficient and cleaner alternative to the energy systems currently used on the industrial level. It also has superior storage capabilities so it can be used even when the sun is not shining.
Solar Saves Schools Millions: An Arkansas school district saved so much money from switching to solar power for their buildings, they were able to bump up their teachers’ salaries and eliminate their budget deficits. After its success, numerous other school districts across America are switching to solar power. At the end of 2019 in the US, 5.3 million children attended schools powered by solar electricity. That's good news for the health of their finances and the planet. More...
It's just became the world’s largest region to meet all of its energy needs from solar power. Climate change, advances in technology and lower costs are driving the adoption of solar around the world, but some places are already leaning on it quite heavily as a part of their energy mix. This is true of the state of South Australia, which for a short period earlier in October met 100 percent of its energy needs from solar power - a world-first for a jurisdiction of its size. More...