Solar energy is changing the face of public power. From solar panels to tankless solar water heaters and everything in between, solar tech is making waves in the way we view green energy. Here are just five of the most recent solar innovations that are transforming the industry.
In August 2014, researchers at Michigan State University created something that could make every window and screen a fully-functioning power source. A transparent solar concentrator turns a piece of glass into a PV solar cell that can act as a clear, discrete solar panel. Uniquely, this photovoltaic cell selectively harvests factors of the solar spectrum that are unseen by the human eye while also letting regular visible light pass through.
While the concept behind this invention has been around for some years, just recently scientists have been able to develop the transparent luminescent solar concentrator (TLSC) that is completely clear, meaning it can be used anywhere from windows to cell phones and any other device or area that has a clear, uncolored surface.
Portable Solar Solutions
Developing countries, places recovering from disaster, or communities lacking access to electricity can all benefit from portable solar systems. As an alternative or complement to traditional power sources like fossil fuel generators, portable solar solutions can be used anywhere at anytime. Take, for example, a community in distress after a devastating earthquake. By deploying solar power systems, people can have access to electricity that aids in relief efforts, sustainability, and stability. These portable solar systems can enhance life saving efforts and medical solutions at a fraction of the cost of traditional methods.
The Roll-Array makes solar panels look like carpet. This rollable solar array can be towed by any 4×4 car and can be dropped off at any desired location. By simply hooking up the Roll-Array to the back of the car and driving forward, the Roll-Array is spooled out like a carpet – dispersing dozens of solar panels in a matter of seconds. These panels provide up to 100 kWp of power and can be deployed 22-times faster than manual solar panel installation.
The Tesla Battery
OK, so this one isn’t really under the radar, but it has yet to fully impact the U.S. market — yet. Billionaire Elon Musk unveiled a revolutionary slew of Tesla batteries that have the capability to fundamentally change the way we use energy and untether us from our dependence on dirty fossil fuels. Tesla Motors is a leading company in automotive and energy storage that designs electric cars, electric vehicle powertrain components and battery products. With this new battery, Tesla is providing people with solar solutions at 60 percent less than traditional means. This battery is an ideal option for people who don’t have the funds or proper location for photovoltaic panels.
As exemplified by Tesla, solar transportation is coming up in the solar tech industry. The Solar Impulse 2, however, is soaring toward solar success. As the first solar airplane to sustain night flight with a pilot on board, the Solar Impulse 2 made history with a round-the-world trip powered solely by the sun.
Similarly, the Netherlands’ SolaRoad is the world’s first solar road generates about 3,000 kWh of power – enough to sustain a single-person household for an entire year. Though it’s only the size of a 230-feet bike path, the SolaRoad has the technology and potential to be utilized on a much larger scale.
Hayden Beck is a freelance writer that contributes content to multiple online publications. Recently, he has worked with Legend Solar. Hayden’s focus includes writing about solar power and green industry trends. Hayden is committed to helping individuals learn more about renewable energy and new bio-technologies.
— Solar Builder magazine