4 Solar Innovations You Never Knew Existed

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Solar panels, Provence, France

Over the years, People around the globe are bearing the brunt of global warming and depletion of non-renewable resources, making it crucial for us to come up with sustainable solutions that minimize our carbon footprint and greenhouse emissions.

Harnessing renewable sources of energy, namely sunlight, water, and wind can significantly reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, producing clean energy that is free of harmful emissions. If you want to contribute to the planet, the best way to do is also by owning a solar generator.

With 173 thousand terawatts of solar energy striking our planet each year, solar energy is the largest source of renewable and clean energy for mankind. This energy source offers ten-thousand times the energy required by people worldwide. Because of its real potential for replacing fossil fuels and fostering a green future, solar energy is making it into the mainstream.

The solar sector is projected to continue growing, and according to The Guardian it’s the fastest-growing source of new energy  With this in mind, it’s interesting to consider what the next innovation in solar energy will be.

We’ve compiled a selection of the most exciting innovations in solar energy, which are set to change the way we use solar in our homes and businesses.

Solar Paint

If someone says they are installing solar on their house or office building, solar panels are usually the first thing to come to mind, but for researchers from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, solar power can also be harnessed and generated by using paint. The researchers have developed a very innovative solar paint that generates hydrogen using sunlight and moist air. The research team expects this exciting technology will be available for commercial use within 5 years.

The research team developed the solar paint by using titanium oxide with a new compound called synthetic molybdenum-sulfide which acts like a gel. The combined material absorbs air moisture and solar energy in the atmosphere and then splits the water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen. The collected hydrogen is then used to charge fuel cells or batteries and can even power an electric vehicle.

Solar paint is a promise for homeowners of the future – along with Tesla’s solar tiles, they will be able to generate power from the sun in more than one way.

 

Solar-Powered Planes

In the air and on the road, solar technology is going the distance. Currently, the Solar Impulse 2the first solar airplane able to sustain flight at night with a pilot on board, is making its historic round-the-world trip powered only by the sun. Solar Impulse 2 weighs significantly less, has a wingspan larger than a Boeing 747 aircraft and produces no CO2 emissions.

According to Bertrand Piccard “I hope people will understand that it is not just a first in the history of aviation, but also a first in the history of energy”.

Over in the Netherlands, SolaRoad, the world’s first “solar road,” has defied expectations and has generated about 3,000 kWh of power, enough to provide a single-person household with electricity for a year. Considering it’s only a 230-feet bike path, the potential for this technology could be big, kind of like photovoltaic technology itself.

 Solar Fashion

The concept of solar-reliant attire has been in development for over a decade, with prominent fashion labels longing to lure shoppers with innovative apparel and fashion accessories that can charge mobile phones and wearable devices.

With the world moving towards a sustainable future, researchers are working on embedding flexible solar panels into the fabric, enabling every person to harness renewable solar energy. Pauline van Dongen, a well-known Dutch fashion designer, has created an entire collection of shirts, parkas, and high-end fashion wear that can produce up to one watt of electricity – enough to charge phones, MP3 players, and other hand-held gadgets for a few hours.

Several other firms are introducing solar-powered sunglasses, jewelry, watches, and backpacks to revolutionize the fashion industry while moving towards a renewable future.

 

#5 Solar Innovation: Solar Water (aka Solar Desalination Process)

Water desalination – creating freshwater from seawater, which is otherwise unusable water – is essentially the process of boiling salt water and capturing and condensing the steam to remove the salt. An extremely large volume of heat is needed to boil the water, and about half of the operating expenses of a desalination facility goes directly towards its energy costs.

The solar desalination process utilizes nanoparticle-assisted solar vaporization in a membrane distillation geometry. This process can be scalable and, if successful, can provide sufficient clean water for families to use in a small footprint, and potentially for off-grid desalination at isolated locations.

In September 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy announced that they expected “to make $15 million available for 7 to 10 projects that explore early-stage technologies with the prospect of significantly reducing the cost of desalination through solar thermal energy.” This is good news for the engineers of this trailblazing product which shows so much innovative potential.

Do you know of any more Innovations? Comment Below

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