The last few years has seen the solar power industry come a long way with a variety of new innovations that are revolutionizing solar power. These new solar technology breakthroughs and developments include more durable solar cells and solar panels that can track the sun during the daytime.
The efficiency of solar energy has improved enormously over the course of the last ten years thanks to competition, an increase in production and new technological advancements. Because of this solar panels are now much more cost-effective and efficient than was ever previously the case.
Solar cells efficiency refers to the percentage of sunlight that is actually able to be converted into electricity by a solar cell. Back in 2010 that efficiency for most commercial silicon cells was just 10% but today many are more than 25% and there are even some research cells that have managed over 47%.
The rise in efficiency has been the result of better manufacturing processes, improved cell design and the use of new materials such as organic semiconductors and perovskites.
Solar shingles is the name of roofing materials intended to have solar cells seamlessly integrated into the actual structure of a property. They are intended to resemble standard roofing materials like clay tiles or asphalt while being able to harness the sun’s solar energy. They are made of either crystalline silicon solar cells or thin-film solar cells that can be embedded within the surface of a shingle.
Solar shingles have proven a big success for the solar industry due to their aesthetic appeal, efficiency in terms of space, environmental benefits and contribution to grid resilience, which in turn has led to increased adoption by consumers.
Solar windows, also referred to as transparent solar panels or photovoltaic windows, is the term given to innovative building materials that are able to generate electricity from the sun’s rays while still allowing for the passage of visible light. Solar windows integrate transparent photovoltaic cells into a window frame or glass.
Solar windows are a particularly promising innovation for the generation of energy in buildings as they can serve as a replacement for normal windows, making them very sustainable and efficient.
Sun-tracking solar cells
Solar cells capable of tracking the sun from east to west during the day were unveiled by researchers in New South Wales, Australia in 2016. Shaped like bowls, these solar cells use solar cells in order to follow the sun and thus be able to capture more energy. An array of smaller solar cells makes up the solar cells, capturing as much as 40% more energy than usual.
Printable solar cells
2017 saw Michigan researchers unveil solar cells printed on thin plastic sheets that can be rolled up, run over and submerged in water without damage. These solar cells could go anywhere, including many places where it is currently not possible to place solar panels.
The solar industry has come a long way and the journey has only just begun.