Aside from the most hardcore climate change deniers, everybody can agree the importance of developing better solutions for renewable energy. Not only in order to reduce CO2 emissions, but also to address the fact that fossil fuels are a limited resource.
Big efforts go into developing better technologies for generating and using energy from renewable sources. And while many challenges and obstacles remain, some really exciting new concepts and products being developed and introduced right now, particularly in the market for solar panels.
New concepts for more efficient solar panels
Just like wind power is dependent on the wind blowing, solar power obviously depends on the sun shining. But solar power is also challenged by the fact, that solar panels are generally only able to convert 15-23 pct of the suns energy into electricity. Being able to increase that rate, would make solar power a lot more efficient – and companies and researchers are working hard to achieve just that in different ways:
Kirigami cut solar panels offer a potential solution to the fact that the majority of the solar panel installations are in a fixed angle, therefore missing out on capturing energy during some parts of the day.
By cutting the solar cells in a specific pattern, they can be smoothly adjusted to move according to the suns angel, without having to tilt the whole solar panel. This could generate as much as 20-40 pct. more power during a year.
Another solution is presented by Ripasso Energy. Using a “mirrored dish”-design, the company has managed to convert as much as 32 pct. of the suns energy to electricity.
That’s more than a 30 pct increase compared to even the best conventional solar panels – though it’ll take up a lot more space than your average rooftop solar panels.
Easier, better energy storage
Better technologies for collecting power from renewable energy sources is only half of the equation. We’re currently wasting a lot of renewable power because we don’t use it at the moment it’s produced. And we lack efficient ways to store that energy.
With their saltwater batteries, Aquion Energy knowingly sought a solution that was scalable and used existing technology. The batteries – designed specifically for renewable energy storage – are made from non-toxic materials like salt water and carbon, and packaged into stackable modules. And while they don’t have the energy density of the more commonly used lithium-ion batteries, they do have a longer lifespan. They’re also entirely non-flammable, making them a safer option for most use cases.
Earlier this year, Tesla Motors introduced the Powerwall, a home battery that charges using electricity generated from solar panels, and powers your home when there’s no sun light. What really sets this solution apart is that it’s compact, easy to install and requires practically no maintenance. Furthermore, the batteries are sold at a price point that’s more than 60 percent less than previous solar power storage products, paving the way for more households to cover their power consumption with renewable energy.