ION Solar Blog

Breakthroughs in Solar Technology

In 1954, the first solar photovoltaic device was introduced. It was the first of its kind to provide enough energy electricity to actually be used. By 1958, solar cells were used in small-scale applications.

By 1970, the interest in solar cells increased due to the energy crisis. People wanted solar cells to produce electricity in their homes and businesses. However, prices were extremely high and made large-scale applications impractical.

Through the years, the solar industry has refined the technology, making photovoltaic devices more practical. As the technology has developed, more residents are turning to solar to produce the electricity they need. Solar technology is constantly under review and many breakthroughs and developments are creating an exciting future for the solar industry.

New Chemical Formula

A physicist from the University of Toledo has been pushing the performance of solar cells to levels that have never before been reached. There has been a significant breakthrough in the chemical formula and process to make the new material. The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab and the professor of physics at University of Colorado believe the ultra-high efficiency material — called tandem perovskite solar cells — will be ready to debut full-sized solar panels in the consumer market in the near future.

The technology of perovskites would replace silicon, which remains the solar-cell material of choice for converting the sun’s light into electrical energy. Dr. Yanfa Yan, professor of physics at University of Colorado said, “We are producing higher-efficiency, lower-cost solar cells that show great promise to help solve the world energy crisis. The meaningful work will help protect our planet for our children and future generations. We have a problem consuming most of the fossil energies right now, and our collaborative team is focused on refining our innovative way to clean up the mess.”

This new technology has the potential of bringing the efficiency of the new solar cell from 18 percent to 23 percent efficiency rate. Each effort brings us closer to more efficient solar energy systems!

Flexible Solar ‘Skin’

A flexible solar ‘skin’ may just be the next big thing in the solar industry. This technology could be used to generate power on homes, cars and phones and is one step closer to development after the technology was used to break a world record for electricity conversion.

Engineers at the University of Queensland have been working with nanoparticles known as quantum dots that pass electrons and generate an electrical current when exposed to solar energy. These dots can be printed on flexible sheets that have the potential to be used as a transparent skin to power devices including mobile phones and electrical vehicles, and applied to windows and other surfaces.

Lianzhou Wang, an Australian Research Council laureate in materials engineering explained the advantages of the technology compared to traditional solar cell technology including it being lightweight, flexible and able to work in weaker light, such as on cloudy days or under indoor lighting. He also believes it could be used for a range of applications, including cars and wearable technology.

BIPV Solar Technology

Flexible solar skin may not be the only way to make solar panels blend. Building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) blend into building architecture. This technology can be installed in the form of roofs, canopies, curtain walls, facades, and skylight systems. BIPV can be an aesthetically appealing way to incorporate solar to residential and commercial buildings.

Aesthetics is not the only thing BIPV technology has to offer. This solar panel technology enables homeowners to save on building materials and electric power costs. You can cut down on the additional cost of solar panel mounting by substituting BIPV for standard building materials.

BIPV technology provides many benefits, including the following:

  • Increased energy efficiency
  • High thermal and sound insulation
  • Clean and free power output from the sun
  • Zero carbon footprint

There are many benefits of BIPV solar technology that will help keep your architecture aesthetically pleasing without compromising the structural integrity of the building.

Solar Fabric

The solar industry offers more than just architectural solar installations. Solar products are popping up all around, including the new innovative solar fabric. Solar power can be generated at fixed locations, or while you are traveling around. Researchers are developing solar fabrics which incorporate solar power in each fiber. This technology allows you to generate electricity while you are on the move through your own clothing. These solar fibers are intended to be used in your t-shirts, winter coats, or any other clothing to keep you warm, power your phone and provide energy for others needs while you are on the go.

Researchers have attempted to combine solar fabric and solar panels by building facades that provide both shade and power, awnings that lighten up streetlights, and curtains that eliminate power consumption from the grid. Solar fabric has the potential to help you save energy during every part of your day. 

Solar advancements are paving the way to lighter, more flexible, and applicable solar technology. The future of solar is bright! If you’re interested in going solar, visit ionsolar.com for a free quote!

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