Solar panels New technologies and trends in 2019
Solar power is dynamically developing and changing. Development takes place in several directions at once:
- new applications of existing developments;
- existing technologies are constantly being improved, becoming more efficient and attractive for investments or end-users;
- new materials and new technologies of transformation of solar energy into electric power are created.
This distribution is somewhat conditional, but reflects the processes taking place in one of the most dynamic areas of alternative energy.
New areas of application
Roads from solar panels
Recently, a remarkable event took place. The sidewalks along some sections of Route 66, which in the middle of the last century were called "the main street of America", were declared a testing ground for a new roadbed containing solar panels.
Such a road during operation should perform several tasks at once:
- generate electricity and give it for consumption in an existing network;
- to accumulate electric energy for LED lamps that illuminate the road at night;
- turn it into heat for melting snow and ice in the cold season.
The next step will be to install such coverage on selected sections of Route 66.
Notifications of already implemented projects of small areas of sunny roads have also been obtained from the Netherlands, France, and China. Obviously, we are approaching the historic moment when sunny roads become economically justifiable. The applied technologies are somewhat different, but have a number of common features, including the layered structure of the road surface material. The upper layer is transparent and durable (transparent concrete, transparent plastic), the middle - actually the solar panels, the bottom protects solar elements from the adverse effects of the earth.
As solar energy begins to gain dominance, more and more homeowners use solar energy - even those whose roofs do not allow the installation of panels. In this case, the batteries of solar cells are installed on the ground and thanks to solar trackers become a viable option for obtaining clean energy.
Trackers allow solar panels to produce electricity at maximum efficiency. Sun surveillance systems are tilted and shifted the angle of the solar array during the day to best fit the location of the sun. Although solar trackers have already been available for commercial use, solar collectors have been increasingly introducing this technology in recent years. Recently, GTM Research has published a report showing a significant upward trend in the popularity of tracking systems. GTM predicts a 254-percent increase compared to last year for the market for photoelectric tracking this year. The report says that by the year 2021, almost half of all installed solar panels with terrestrial installation will have the ability to monitor solar activity.
The record-breaking performance of the silicon solar panels, which dominate the market, is 23.5% and belongs to the panels of SunPower. The main drawback of these panels is their high cost. Almost the same efficiency may be due to perovskite panels at a significantly lower cost. The new material is a flexible semiconductor film, it is almost 1000 times thinner for silicon analogues and is made from accessible materials.
Canadian scientists announced the creation of a panel of this material with an efficiency of 20.1% and a price close to the cost of a conventional paper newspaper.
American researchers at MIT also announced a new technology that could double the efficiency of solar cells in general. The MIT has introduced a new technical concept that captures and uses heat, which is usually emitted by solar panels. Utilization of this thermal energy can help to further reduce the cost of converting solar energy into electricity.
Fabrics with solar cells
Approaches to the implementation of the idea of "solar material" a lot. Some suggest the creation of flexible materials, such as paper or tarpaulin. They consist of the smallest flexible photovoltaic cells and can repeat the shape of the objects on which they are placed. The generated energy is used to recharge mobile devices or accumulates in batteries.
Such textiles consist of three-dimensional components; it can not be called light and flexible.
American researchers textile designer Marianne Fairbanks and Trisha Andrew chemist are trying to create a flexible and breathable sunny textiles, suitable for making window curtains, car seats, tents, and even clothes. Their material consists of one layer of fabric, each fiber of which is covered by four layers of different polymers. Now the project is at the stage of creating experimental models and for commercial realization it will have to go a long way.
Solar thermal fuel(STF)
To a large extent, the predominant use of solar energy is due to the availability of a simple method for storing the received electric energy. Without this, they will not be able to become economically viable for use as the main source of energy. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Jeffrey Grossman and his team of researchers spent the past few years developing alternative solutions for solar energy storage, the best of which is probably solar thermal fuels(STF).
To create it, a molecule that can be stable in two different states is used. The energy of light translates the molecule into a "charged" state, in which it continues to remain, until the temperature falls to a certain level. Then the molecule allocates heat and returns to the "unloaded" state.
In this way, the STF can use the sunlight energy, store it as a charge, and then release it when the corresponding request appears. The essence of the problem of saving solar heat is that solar energy storage technology needs to charge and save energy, rather than capture and give warmth. In recent years, a solid state STF device was created that could be implemented in windows, windshields, car roofs, etc. At present, there is no need to talk about a successful completion and commercial implementation of the project.
Water purifier on solar cells
Researchers at Stanford University, together with the US Department of Energy, have developed a new device that can clean water when exposed to sunlight. The tiny tablet (roughly half the size of the postage stamp) - is not the first sunny water filter, but it has made significant progress compared to already implemented projects. Preliminary designs for full water purification required hours of sun exposure. In contrast, the new device allows you to get reliable drinking water in just a few minutes of daylight. As the technology of solar cleaners will be improved, these coin-size devices will be sold primarily to tourists who will become the ideal consumer audience.