New Technologies in Solar Energy
Solar Energy generates energy using the light from the sun. Solar technologies convert sunlight into electrical energy that can be used to generate electricity or be stored. It is the third most significant renewable energy source and is critical in preserving the environment. It is the most reliable energy source. In the last few years, there has been an increase in the use of solar energy. To further increase this use, many new technologies have been introduced in the market and they are emerging which will gradually increase the acceptance level of solar energy by end-use consumers. Some of the new technologies are mentioned below.
Building Integrated Photovoltaics – It is the integration of photovoltaics in the building structure. It is in the form of roofs, facades, curtain walls, etc. This helps in saving the cost of building materials, solar panel systems mounting systems, and electricity. Also, it is more aesthetically appealing in comparison to traditional solar panels. The most multifaceted product in this system is PV glass. It is made from transparent photovoltaic cells and is an energy-generating device that allows the natural sunlight to enter the house and at the same time produces unseen energy. It is a step towards a zero-carbon footprint.
Floating Photovoltaic Solar Panels – In this, a solar photovoltaic system is placed over a body of water. The systems are created for floating on water bodies like dams, reservoirs, etc. Huge amounts of energy are produced without taking up land. The combination of the solar system with water makes the whole system more energy efficient, and the electricity production increases by at least 10%, which is due to the cooling effect of water. It helps with water management as well, as the shade cast caused by solar panel systems on the water prevents algae formation in water and decreases the loss of water to evaporation as well.
Thin-Film Solar Cells – These are second-generation solar cells, in which there are layers of solar cells up to 4 that allow the sun’s energy to be harnessed by 46% in comparison to traditional solar panels that harness the sun’s energy by 18%. These are mainly used for commercial use. But these are not cost-effective.
Solar Skins – It uses new Photovoltaic technology and custom designs are integrated into solar panel systems. Beneath the solar skins, there are solar cells. Each cell filters the sunlight which falls on it though there is selective light filtration by the custom design. Hence, when the sunlight falls on the solar skin, the custom design is displayed, and the solar energy is produced as well. The solar skin can be customized to display designs like logos, flags, roofs, etc. The skins are aesthetically appealing. Presently, this technology is in the testing phase.
Solar Lighting – Solar Lighting is used mainly outdoors to provide lighting and works off-grid. Various battery functions are used which reduces the cost of cable installations. There are backup systems that enable lighting for several days. This provides the advantage of providing lighting in areas where conventional lighting installation is not possible.
Solar Fabric – Solar fabrics are being developed in which solar filaments are embedded in the fabrics, even clothes which can help power phones and keep people warm as well. They can be used for curtains as well, which will eliminate power consumption from the grid. They are lightweight and flexible and can be used on any type of structure. They have proven to be effective in low-light levels as well and harness the sun’s energy up to 13%.
Photovoltaic Noise Barriers – The noise barriers are useful for reducing excessive noise; however, they also have enough space for solar energy. Hence, it is the combination of noise reduction with green power generation. Right alignment is required for efficient solar energy production; double-sided solar noise barriers are being developed to increase efficiency.
In today’s time, the solar energy sector is getting more versatile day by day. Earlier, solar energy was produced only through solar panels which were mounted on the ground or rooftops, however, due to technological advancements, solar energy has become more flexible to use.