In this modern age of technology, the consumption of electrical energy or all other sorts of energy goes on increasing, with an increase in demand for energy, human beings are constantly upgrading their lifestyle with the use of modern technological appliances for making their lives comfortable. Increase in usage of modern technology results in increased power consumption. From the early technological revolution, electricity has been generated with conventional methods, but now in the 21st century, engineers and researchers finding innovative ways of generating electricity.
To fulfill the growing power demand, human beings are concentrating on finding alternative sources of energy. Solar energy is one of the efficient alternative sources of energy. It is also known as the future of energy. Even available in enormous amounts, less than 2% of the world’s energy is produced by solar energy. With ongoing research on solar energy, scientists have succeeded in finding modern ways of harnessing solar energy. It will be pretty fair if we install the solar plant in the desert, in this case, we don’t need to worry about the cloudy environment and space for installation.
In agrivoltaics solar panels get installed over the crop fields; as it brings two advantages, that there is nothing any special requirement of space for installation and crops release water from its leaves and cools down the environment. Evaporation of water from crop leaves decreases the surrounding temperature and it helps to maintain the temperature at which solar panels can work effectively and efficiently.
Researchers from the University of Arizona found that between May & July 2019, the efficiency of the solar panel is found to be 3 % more than the solar panels that were not installed on crop fields in the same region.
The concept of agrivoltaics is further extended to floatovoltaics. In floatovoltaics solar panels being installed on the body of water. This can produce more cooling than air and maintain panels at an effective temperature range. When it comes to installing large arrays of panels on huge space, this system works well in that case. This system works well around the world and becoming more popular. If it continues, then agrivoltaics and floatovoltaics can produce a large amount of the world’s energy.
Engineers always trying to get the most out of the solar panels. The angle of solar panels is very much important in the case of the installation of a solar system. Installation of panels at specific angles is always important to get more energy from the solar system. To get the most out of it sun rays should hit directly on the surface of panels. But it’s not a permanent solution, because the angle of sun rays always changes over a day. To solve that issue, engineers found a photovoltaic tracker. (PV Tracker) which tracks the direction and angle of sun rays and changes the angle of solar panels accordingly. PV Trackers use only 5% to 10% of the energy produced and boost up energy production by 40%.
This system works well in the region which is far from the equator; where the angle of sunlight varies significantly between summer and winter. These systems are too bulky to be installed on rooftops but can be used in other settings.
Organic Solar Cell
Engineers working on various ideas that can reduce the weight of solar panels considerably than that of silicon panels. They are working on solar panels that can be embedded in your window, which means that the sunlight coming throughout your windows can be used for making electricity. For making panels that can be embedded in windows, transparency and lightweight are the basic considerations. Organic Solar Cells are the solution to these considerations. Organic Solar Cells are lighter in weight and cheaper to produce as compared to silicon panels and they can be transparent also. It sounds good like you are sitting in front of a sunny window, taking heat from the sun and simultaneously your windows generating electricity, that’s cool.
Researchers are working on finding new and innovative ways of harnessing solar energy. Solar fabric is one of the innovative ways of harnessing solar energy. It consists of fabrics embedded with tiny solar panels that can be dressed by human beings. The end goal is to produce energy just by walking outside. Engineers and researchers aim to produce solar panels tiny enough that can be embedded in fabrics and people wearing those fabrics shouldn’t feel them.
In 2018 Researchers from the UK created a solar cell measuring 3mm by 1.5mm that is tiny enough to be embedded in clothes. For testing, the invention, researchers embedded 200 tiny solar cells in fabric and it can produce energy which is enough to charge Fitbit.
Believe it or not, we are not talking about large amounts of energy but with just 2000 solar cells we can charge our mobile and that’s pretty good.
Solar Thermal Fuels
In this age of invention and technology, solar energy is not just the panels that absorb heat and generate electricity. It is beyond its conventional ways of harnessing solar energy. Researchers focusing on the use of the sun’s energy to produce thermal power. The goal is to create a rechargeable battery made of chemicals called solar thermal fuels. Solar thermal fuels absorb the sun’s energy in the form of chemical bonds and can be used as heat later on. This heat can be used on our command. Each time when these chemicals absorb energy from the sun creates a new chemical configuration and this helps to store more and more energy.
Researchers from Sweden developed solar thermal fuel that can store solar energy for nearly two decades. Sweden got the fuel to bump the temperature of surrounding immediately by 63°C in just a few minutes and the team is hoping to get that number even higher.