Solar power is all about innovation. One new milestone leads to another, and the cycle continues as we persist in doing more with less.
As we move towards a more environmental-friendly future, industry leaders are looking for cheaper alternatives to leverage its true potential. Over the last few years, we have witnessed several breakthroughs in solar energy storage, solar efficiency, solar design tech, and even wearable solar tech. The two prominent technologies that lead to solar power innovations include concentrated solar power (CSP) and photovoltaics (PV). These promising technologies will transform and revolutionize the way we think about renewable energy and energy production in general.
That being said, a lot of new advances revolve around the core concepts of these technologies. This article gives a complete update on the latest breakthroughs you should know about solar technology and why it could be the next big thing.
Floating Solar Farms (or Floatovoltaics)
Silicon panels are becoming affordable, widespread, and more efficient over days. According to industry specialists, if photovoltaic panels are positioned on reservoirs and other water bodies, their efficiency increases along with other benefits.
Floatovoltaics, also referred to as floating solar farms, are photovoltaic solar power systems placed on dams, lakes, reservoirs, and other water bodies. They are capable of generating insane amounts of electricity without any real estate or infrastructure. Additionally, their installation costs are less compared to the land-based photovoltaic panels. Floatovoltaics are one of the most revolutionary technologies that generate power by up to 10% greater than conventional panels due to the water’s cooling effect.
Moreover, it also helps with water management. Floatovoltaics reduce the rate of evaporation by limiting air circulation and obstructing sunlight from the water surface. Besides, they prevent algal bloom in the water bodies, thereby lowering water treatment costs.
The first commercial 175kWh floatovoltaics system was installed at Far Niente Winery in Napa Valley, California, in 2008.
Solar skins are a breakthrough PV technology that allows people to integrate custom designs into solar panels. It is similar to the ad wraps used on the windows of buses and other vehicles. They maintain high efficiency due to their light filtration advancements.
Solar skins can also be used for offices and businesses, wherein they can be customized to display business advertisements, logos, etc. They can also be positioned on top of solar panels to match your grassy lawns or a building’s rooftop. Moreover, they allow individuals to monitor your system performance at all times on smartphones and other mobile devices. It sends notification alerts in case of any problems or solar energy outages and suggests the appropriate measures. Although it’s somewhat expensive than traditional PV panels, the benefits offered by solar skins overpowers it.
BIPV Solar Technology
Building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) can be used on the building’s roofs, facades, canopies, atrium, curtain walls, and terrace floor, and provides the benefits given below:
- Decreased O&M costs
- Zero carbon footprint
- Increased energy efficiency
- Clean power production from the sun
- Free sound insulation
Installing BIPV solar panels won’t compromise a building’s design, unlike conventional solar PV panels. Besides, they enable individuals to save on building materials and electricity costs. Moreover, people can save on additional costs of solar panel mounting systems by choosing BIPV solar panels instead of standard building materials. These panels also act as energy-producing devices, allowing sunlight to enter homes, similar to traditional architectural glasses.
Researchers and scientists are producing solar fabrics to introduce solar power in each fiber. These fibers can be embedded in your clothing, such as t-shirts, winter coats, and jackets, to help you keep warm during the winters. Additionally, it can charge your phone and provide energy for other needs while you’re on the go. Thus, helping you save on installation and solar panel mounting costs.
Solar panel manufacturing companies are tirelessly working on the US Army project to manufacture solar-powered robotic tents. With solar panels becoming more reasonable, it’s highly possible that almost everything will be powered by solar energy in the near future.
Photovoltaic Solar Noise Barriers (PVNB)
Traffic commotion in the US has always been a growing issue for everyone. To eliminate this, 48 states have built approximately 3,000 miles of barriers for controlling traffic noise and commotion. Noise barriers were always built with the vision of developing cost-effective barriers that effectively lowers noise. However, the US Department of Energy (DoE) is looking forward to creating noise barriers with sustainable power generation.
With the growing usage of noise barriers in the US, the overall solar energy generated from there is estimated to be around 400-gigawatt hours (GWh) every year.
The Bottom Line
Solar power was earlier known to be generated through rooftop panels. But thanks to all the breakthroughs mentioned above, solar is set to become more efficient, affordable, flexible, lighter, and applicable everywhere. Imagine that all this novel tech is available in a city that you’re visiting. You will be able to charge your mobile devices from your solar-powered clothes, buy food at a food card powered by solar energy, and many more. This is what the future looks like!