Not only is the sun a never-ending source of infinite power (see What Is Solar Energy?), it is one of the most accessible power sources above all others. Now that we’ve come to appreciate the advantages of solar power, it’s time to think about where the Future of Solar Technology is headed. As technology advances and science finds new ways to gather the energy of the sun, the use of solar panels is spreading, and new types of solar technology are being developed.
The Road To Solar Power
Yes, literally! Roads are being paved with solar panels. The idea may have been dreamed up years ago, but now, it’s actually being done. Within five years, France will have more than 600 miles of roadway paved with solar panels. The panels have been developed to withstand 20 years worth of normal traffic and will provide power to more than 5 million people. Although the road way in France is the most recent endeavor (announced on February 4, 2016), they were not the first. The Netherlands has had a solar roadway in place for just over a year now. Not only will solar roads lower the cost of energy use within the homes of citizens, they also won’t be footing the bill for public services. Just the cost of powering street lamps, traffic lights, water pumps, schools and public services will make it worth the while. The possibilities for the use of solar road panels is amazing as seen in This Informative Youtube Video.
The Shingle Most Innovative Solar Panel
Many people who want to take advantage of solar panel power hesitate because they don’t like the look of solar panels on their roof. Now there is another option for solar panel that doesn’t detract from the look of your roofline. Solar shingles look very similar to regular shingles, but with an added function. Not only do they protect your home from the elements, solar shingles can turn your entire roof into a power-gathering surface directly exposed to the sun. The shingles can be integrated with regular asphalt shingles for those who want to invest a little at a time. And with government rebates and incentives, that investment may be even easier on your wallet bringing you closer to the reality of lower utility bills (40 – 60% lower).
A Window Of Opportunity
Even in the middle of the coldest winter, a sunny day can remind you just how powerful the sun is. Sun streaming through a window is magnified creating heat. Anyone who has ever climbed into a parked car in July is aware of this. If plain old window glass can increase the power of the sun, imagine what a clear solar panel could do. Researchers at Michigan State University did just that. They created a fully transparent solar concentrator that would turn any sheet of glass or clear surface into a photovoltaic solar cell. From the windows in your home to the touchscreen on your smartphone, the possibilities are endless. Scientists at MIT have jumped on the bandwagon and hope to make the idea into a workable product that can be used in thousands of applications.
Classic Solar Technology – New Applications
We’ve seen solar panels on rooftops. More and more often now, we’re seeing large stand-alone installations on farms and businesses. There are, however, many more possible uses for classic solar technology. A little innovation, a smidge of experimentation, and folks are finding cool new uses for classic solar panels. If you don’t like the idea of solar panels on your roof, why not use them to create a carport? Not only will the solar panels capture the sun and create energy, a solar panel carport will protect your sun from the harmful rays and the elements. Solar carports have been used for both commercial purposes and in attractive residential settings.
For now, most of us are content with the idea of placing a few solar panels on our roof to help defray the cost of utilities. But, like any other technology, the science behind solar power equipment and photovoltatic cells is spreading, growing and finding new and innovative purposes every day. The more we invest in even the simplest rooftop solar panels, the more we are investing in a future of lower utility costs and a healthier planet. After all, you never know just where you’re going to see a new use for an old solar panel!