At the mention of solar energy, images of big, black panels spread across rooftops probably spring to mind. However, the potential of solar energy is now being put into practice and some very exciting technologies are emerging.
Whilst most solar panels we see today are black and opaque, scientists and researchers are striving towards a transparent material that can harvest energy from the sun.
That is the primary mission of New Energy Technologies, an American company that is developing windows that generate electricity. The team have conceived a coating which can generate electricity on glass and flexible plastics in various different tints.
Whereas the typical photovoltaic system is restricted to use in direct sunlight on limited rooftop space, the ‘solarwindows’ are designed to function in sunlight, shady conditions as well as artificial lighting. They will also cover a much greater surface area, spanning across the glass surface of today’s high risers.
Also making rapid advancements is the use of solar generators on mobile devices. Whilst the capacity of the technology in our pocket has enormously increased, the battery life, if anything, has unimpressively decreased. Ubiquitous Energy, an American tech company, have come up with the antidote.
ClearView Power is a transparent film that can be placed across the display of an electronic product. Without hindering display quality or aesthetics, it collects energy from the artificial light being projected. The film can then charge the phone, extend battery life, and even eliminate the idea of a dead battery, making a mobile device genuinely mobile. The technology harvests light such as ultraviolet and infrared, which our eyes don’t pick up.
A team of designers from South Korea have created a beautiful addition to the solar energy movement. Deigned for the 2016 Land Art Generator Initiative as a proposal for sustainable infrastructure in Santa Monica, California, this majestic orb offers clean water and energy to the city.
The sphere that appears to be floating upon the surface of the sea is made of translucent glass on its upper half, and a reflective mirror like surface on its lower half. The surface is made up of transparent luminescent solar concentrators which supply power to circulate water inside. This is where sea water is transformed into fresh water, through a process of evaporation and condensation.
The future of glass is certainly a bright one. Although various patents are in the process of being approved, we can be sure that they’ll be plenty of solar energy systems surfacing in the years to come.
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