Solar energy is booming! Here are the latest developments of the industry
The future belongs to solar power. Renewable energies are not only on everyone’s lips, electricity generated from solar power, among other things, is becoming increasingly cheaper and more efficient.
The day when photovoltaics and solar thermal technology replace fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil is getting closer.
This positive trend also inspires many creative minds to deal with solar energy in order to further exploit the enormous potential.
Solar energy is already the cheapest way to produce and use renewable electricity. It is versatile and more flexible than wind or water energy.
Therefore, solar cells and modules can no longer be found only on roofs of houses. Creative inventions are rapidly increasing the use of solar power – and with it the use of graphite or graphene in the manufacture of the required modules.
Mini solar system on the balcony
Solar systems on the roof of the house no longer surprise anyone today. How about a mini solar system instead for all those who do not have their own roof because they live for rent?
Anyone who has a balcony or terrace can now also take advantage of solar energy. The regulations for solar systems have been relaxed and now enable use on the home balcony.
Such a mini solar system costs around 600 euros on average and, according to the manufacturer, can supply around 330 kilowatt hours of electricity.
The window as a solar power plant
What was long considered impossible, is no longer a dream of the future: Completely transparent solar cells in the form of a window, for example, have so far hardly been profitable in tests.
Because the more sun is let through a module, the less energy can be produced from it. But at universities like Kaust in Saudi Arabia, scientists have now developed promising solar windows.
Although they are not completely transparent, they do generate electricity. Research is still subject to expansion.
The Kaust prototype currently manages a light transmission of 70% to an efficiency of 10%. Experiments from other universities are drawing their electricity from light that is invisible to humans, namely UV light and infrared components.
With this trick, in addition to solar windows, other glass fronts such as glass and solar car roofs or even monitors and displays are conceivable.
The window as a battery charging station
The South Korean designers Kyuho Song and Boa Oh also deal with windows.
However, they want to tap glass surfaces exposed to the sun with a kind of portable solar socket and thus generate electricity for tablets and smartphones.
Although the invention is not yet suitable for mass production, the two manufacturers already promise that their socket will even work on window panes in an airplane or in a car.
It should be fully charged within 8 hours and then acts as a power bank.
Floating solar power plants
Floating solar power plants and solar parks have been around for a long time. However, the latest developments continue to drive this trend.
Especially in Southeast Asia, solar systems are increasingly being installed on water – soon also on the open sea: an unimagined area that can be used to generate energy.
In China, for example, the largest floating system exists with more than 165,000 panels, which, when installed on a disused open-cast mine flooded with rainwater, produce an output of 40 megawatts.
At the same time, these systems impress with their many times increased efficiency.
Cooler temperatures prevail on the water, increasing the yield of the individual panels. Because photovoltaic systems don’t like heat.
They lose power if they heat up too much in the sun. To let them swim, they are installed on air-filled containers, fixed and wired waterproof.
In Europe, companies from Germany and the Netherlands are currently particularly interested in the trend and are installing solar power plants on our seas.
The largest plant in Germany already manages an output of 750 kilowatts.
Solar power in the field
Agriculture meets regenerative energy generation. On the field!
This trend is currently being researched at high pressure in Germany: Fields are huge areas that can be wonderfully used for the production of agricultural products as well as for energy generation using photovoltaics.
In Baden-Württemberg there is already a joint project between farmers and the Fraunhofer Institute.
An arable area of 3,000 square meters is spanned at an altitude of eight meters with impressive constructions on which solar modules are installed and generate energy.
The field below can be ordered as usual with agricultural machinery. This promises a double harvest from solar power and what is grown on the field.
The only drawback: the system casts a lot of shadow. Some plants don’t get it well. In contrast, during a hot summer, the field is protected and less crop failures occur, which means that this solar trend can mean hot and dry areas in Africa or Asia.
Rueter, Gero: Solare Wende: Was sind die Trends? 15.05.2019. In: Deutsche Welle Online, URL: https://www.dw.com/de/solarenergie-was-sind-die-globalen-trends-solare-wende-klimaschutz-preissturz-boom-energiewende/a-48741190 (abgerufen am 22.04.2020).
Witsch, Kathrin: Trends der Photovoltaik: Energie vom Autodach, schwimmende Kraftwerke und Steckdosen zum Mitnehmen, 18.09.2019. In: Handelsblatt Online, URL: https://www.handelsblatt.com/unternehmen/energie/solarenergie-trends-der-photovoltaik-energie-vom-autodach-schwimmende-kraftwerke-und-steckdosen-zum-mitnehmen/25024234-all.html (abgerufen am 22.04.2020).
Bild: Pixabay.com / Bru-nO / https://pixabay.com/de/photos/solarzelle-solarpanel-photovoltaik-4045029/ (abgerufen am 22.04.2020)