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In our hunt for renewable energy sources, solar is one of the most used to generate electricity to power our homes and businesses without continually damaging the environment.
With development in recent years, some pretty innovative ways have been found to utilise the energy we get from the sun so we can make the most out of the light we get every single day!
Here are 5 innovative ways in which people have utilised sunlight to produce solar power.
With funding being stretched thin, local councils continue to switch off public street lighting in many areas which reduces visibility for pedestrians walking around at night. However, Pro-teq has a simple and cost-efficient solution for our pathways.
Now this may not be strictly solar powered, but using by Starpath, an innovative resurfacing technology, ordinary pavements can be transformed into glowing pathways to help you navigate around the area when lighting is low.
This process involves spraying a coating onto an already established path, which once energised by sunlight, will glow in the dark. Pro-teq claims it is a much cheaper way of lighting up areas, compared to installing streetlights, and also prides itself on the time efficiency of the process. Watch their process below:
Similarly to Starpath, Solar Paint provides a simple and effective use of sunlight to generate energy. Developed by RMIT University, this paint generates energy by absorbing moisture from the air, and splits the water atoms into hydrogen and oxygen. From this separation, a painted wall can produce hydrogen fuel. This paint works in very remote areas away from water, and very hot countries that are near an ocean, generating clean energy from the air.
The Netherlands is famed for its population’s use of bicycles, and they’re using this abundance of cycle paths to generate solar energy. SolaRoad is a path of solar panels that can feed energy back into the grid, and can still be used by cyclists. After six months of testing, SolaRoad was able to generate over 3,000 kWh of energy, enough to power a home for an entire year.
Now the costs involved in this technology are currently very high, with the build of SolaRoad costing as much as it would to power 173 homes with electricity, but the success of how easy it has been to integrate into cycle paths is very promising for the future.
Now solar panels provide an amazing energy sources for us to install on our houses, but you have to admit, they’re not going to win any awards for their looks!
Tesla however has come to the rescue with its absolutely seamless design for its Solar Roof project. Solar Roof offers consumers the opportunity to generate solar energy for their homes, without great big panels having to be installed on their rooftops.
Instead, their current roof tiles will be replaced with small individual solar panels, each designed to look like conventional roof tiles. Tesla’s tiles are designed to be stronger than traditional roof tiles, being able to withstand a much higher level of force and more extreme weather conditions.
And it doesn’t stop there, it has been suggested that having these tiles installed actually cost a bit less than traditional tiles, given the savings you could make back on your energy bills by being self sufficient!
Polysolar, a Cambridge-based startup, has developed see-through solar energy panels which could revolutionise the way we use solar panels.
These transparent solar panels can be installed in the place of windows and glass roofs, in a similar vein to Tesla’s Solar Roof, reducing the need to have bulky panels installed on rooftops. This also allows us to utilise the amount of light that is missed by conventional solar panels, that which is shone indirect and at low levels.
This technology has been installed in some places already, with Sainsbury’s using it in two of their petrol stations, and the Barbican Centre in London using these transparent solar panels on a canopy.
However, this technology does come with some drawbacks. There is currently a slight tint to the transparent solar panels, and the level of efficiency is very low compared to other technologies. But with some more investment and research, we could see these panels becoming commonplace public areas in the future.
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