Since the advent of solar technology in the 1960s, worldwide manufacturers have made tremendous attempts to enhance solar panels’ efficiency and lower installation expenses to cater for public customers’ growing demands. These help solar lights become more and more accessible to nearly all people from different walks of life. Go on reading to explore the latest solar light technologies in use in 2018.
New Materials for Solar Cells
As a matter of fact, customers appear hesitant over the cost of solar cells’ setup without further looking at their huge benefits in the long run. Nowadays, around 90% of solar panels sold on the market are made from silicon semiconductors. They are the core but relatively costly ingredient to transform sunlight into electricity. In the meantime, scientists are experimenting with a thin film technology of magnesium chloride on solar cell manufacturing.
Compensating for the fragility of cadmium telluride, magnesium chloride hopefully offers a more efficient yet much cheaper way to boost the photovoltaic process. It is also available in seawater, an abundant and non-toxic source surrounding our life, so the cost of production can be substantially lowered. The overall efficiency is expected to rise by two to 15%.
In terms of materials for solar cells, light-sensitive nanoparticles have come into being. Also known as colloidal quantum dots, they use p-type and n-type semiconductors that are fit for outdoor uses. Since the new colloidal quantum dots don’t bind to air, they can keep operating smoothly and stably under the outside condition, ensuring the sufficient absorption of radiant light. Those equipped with this technology show an eight-percent increase in the productiveness of light conversion.
New Techs for Solar Panels
Instead of using cumbersome rooftop panels of the old days, high-capacity bifacial, frameless, all glass and clear solar panels are supposed to shake the solar industry recently. Moreover, manufacturers have shifted their focus to smaller and smarter micro-grids than traditional electricity ones. Solar skin designs are also customized to fit your roof shingles, or aesthetically blend with the surrounding architecture. Tuscan glass, slate glass, textured glass and smooth glass tiles are just some of them.
- Bifacial solar panels: Known as double-sided panels, they exploit sunlight through both sides via the reflection off the surface below, thereby increasing the produced value. Higher energy harvest capacity means a better option of panels.
- Frameless solar panels: As suggested by their name, they help to enhance the visual aspect of rooftop panel frames. They use a specialized mounting apparatus to add an increasing streamlined appearance to the panels.
- All glass solar panels: They are more durable and visually appealing in comparison with those made of silicon. With improved fire resistance and immunity to erosion, this kind of solar panel is usually integrated into skylights.
- Clear solar panels: They are the great combination of frameless and glass models. While applying the silicon technology, they sandwich cells between two glass casings to create a more attractive look.
New Techs for Energy Storage
For the time being, electricity produced by a solar photovoltaic system is either used immediately or lost when going onto the grid. Because the sun doesn’t shine all day and night long, most solar systems only meet a certain demand for power during the day while a great deal of electricity goes to waste. Though batteries that help to save such lost energy are popular among consumers, even the high-tech ones are fairly ineffective, expensive and short-lived. Utility companies and consumers may run up high bills of frequent battery maintenance and replacement, which isn’t cost-effective for long-term uses.
The technology of molten salt has been developed as a promising solution to the issue of energy storage. In place of oil, it uses heat transfer fluid to convert energy produced by solar systems into solar thermal with the help of inorganic salt. As a result, solar plants are able to run smoothly at temperatures more than 500 degrees Celsius, resulting in higher power outputs.
Another alternative to the conventional method of storing energy is the use of the built-in battery in solar panels. Rather than operating separately with panels, rechargeable batteries are directly built into the solar system, increasing the efficiency by 20% while reducing costs by 25%.
New Applications for Solar Lights
Large-Scale Solar Lighting
Solar energy has long been used in lighting, but advanced technologies derive more benefits from solar lights. Rather than being confined to household use, such type of power is also applied in municipalities on a larger scale, particularly powering street lights. This not only saves electricity but also offers a much cheaper lighting option.
The more prevalence of solar energy means the higher occupation of land for installation. However, regarding that water takes up about 70% of the Earth’s surface, it is feasible to build up solar plants on the water. This technology is gradually gaining its dominance around the world since it has definitely provided a satisfactory approach to the land use issue.
In an attempt to encourage the use of renewable energy to replace non-renewable one, the model of solar-powered roads, particularly highways, has been put into practice. They serve to deploy a large amount of electricity to the grid. More applications in means of public transport like buses and airplanes are expected in the foreseeable future.
Space-based satellites are being deployed to capture sunlight and then transform it into microwave energy before beaming it back to the earth. This technology is likely to capture a more significant amount of sunlight since it can be positioned in alignment with the direction of sun rays, thereby optimizing light capture round the clock.
Generally speaking, solar energy is well worth your investments when comparing its installation expenses with its long-term payback. In the sense that they are being developed towards improved efficiency and reduced costs, you should give it a try without delay. Mull over our updated list of most recent technologies to find whether they fulfill your needs.