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Innovation in Solar Power Technologies Revolutionizing Energy Generation

Innovation in Solar Power Technologies Revolutionizing Energy Generation

Power | Mar, 2023

Sunlight striking on the earth’s surface for an hour and a half can fulfill the global energy consumption for an entire year. Exhausting fossil fuel sources and rising need for generating clean energy have led to some exciting breakthroughs in solar technologies. In 2022, solar photovoltaic cells accounted for 60% of global renewable power growth, followed by wind and hydropower, according to International Energy Agency analysis, owing to governments increasingly seeking to take advantage of renewables’ energy security and climate benefits. In 2022, the global solar power surpassed the 1TW mark and the SolarPower Europe expects the capacity to double to 2.3 TW by 2025. In the next three years, the market is expected to reach USD22.9 billion, owing to the growing impetus towards carbon emissions reduction and rising investments in solar capacity.

Perovskite solar cells

As scientists are seeking alternatives to silicon, required for the manufacturing of solar photovoltaic cells, perovskites seem like a viable option. Silicon is expensive to mine, manufacture, and purify as well as have significant negative impact on the environment. Perovskites are far less expensive and equally efficient replacement for silicon in solar cells and detectors. Perovskite solar cells are emerging as rising star in the field of photovoltaics since they have the ability to absorb light across almost all visible wavelengths. The only limitation associated with commercializing the Perovskite technology is to replace panels several times a year as the material not durable enough. However, researchers at Princeton University have managed to develop Perovskite solar cell with a commercially viable lifetime that could make solar panels last for up to 30 years, far more than 20 years used as a threshold for viability of solar cells.

Floating Solar Farms or Floatvoltaics

Floating solar farms are up to 16% more efficient than traditional farms as the water keeps the PV cells cool. The structures are made up of flexible materials that are high adjustable to any system and makes the system highly efficient and reduces shading issues. Besides, the solar farms help limit evaporation when installed on hydroelectric dams as they save more water for hydropower. In 2021, the global floating solar farms market was valued at USD2.5 billion and is projected to surpass USD10 billion mark by 2030. China has built the world's largest floating solar farm, Dezhou Dingzhuang Floating Solar Farm on the eastern province of China on the Yellow Sea, which could generate 320-Megawatt energy. Another floating solar power plant is expected to be built in Madhya Pradesh, India, which could generate 600-Megawatt power by 2023.

·       Growing Role of Solar Energy for Green Hydrogen Production

Hydrogen fuel is expected to play a crucial role in the transition to full decarbonization. Although hydrogen is available in abundance on the earth’s surface, it must be generated through renewable energy sources to meet the goals of reducing carbon emissions. Currently, 70 million tons of hydrogen produced is being supplied from 3,600TWh of electricity using fossil fuel sources such as natural gas and coal. Solar power is emerging as an ideal low-cost source of electricity for producing green hydrogen. Converting water into hydrogen through electrolytic process, solar power can generate hydrogen, leading to the production of green hydrogen.

Irish company SolarMarine Energy has designed an innovative floating solar energy system for coastal and island location to generate green hydrogen. The floating solar industry is expected to have a market value of USD1 billion by 2023, owing to increasing investments for boosting ocean business and rising initiatives for enabling the transition to a climate-neutral blue economy.

US-based company SunHydrogen unveiled a new type of solar panel housing using H2 generators to generate hydrogen from any source of water, including wastewater and seawater. The panel includes 16 times more area for hydrogen generation to ensure the system achieves considerably high production rates than previous technologies.

Building-integrated PV (BIPV) Systems

Increasing demand for renewable energy sources, rising awareness for energy security and self-sufficiency, and favorable government legislations are driving the demand for building-integrated photovoltaics. As the name suggests, building-integrated photovoltaics seamlessly blend into the building architecture in the form of roofs, canopies, curtain walls, skylight systems etc. and act as energy-generating device, allowing natural light inside homes and offices. Unlike traditional photovoltaics, BIPV can be aesthetically pleasing, which enhances the designing of the building. BIPV solar panel systems facilitate homeowners to save on building materials and electric power costs. The government of France offers the highest feed-in-tariff, subsidies and benefits for electricity generated through photovoltaic components, integrated into buildings.

Germany and Italy are increasing the emphasizing the use of solar energy, which could lead to even higher adoption of BIPV. Advances in the production of BIPV solar panels and growing construction of high-rises and modern architectural skyscrapers are expected to boost the adoption of BIPVs. Technological advancements regarding energy efficiency and transparency of solar materials could also enhance the number of BIPV solutions in the coming years.

Transparent solar panels have the potential to replace windows in the future. Transparent solar is a cutting-edge technology that gathers and uses light energy coming through any glass surface regardless of angle. Researchers have created several means of transparent solar technology, majority of which function more as a transparent solar concentrator. These panels are made to absorb specific UV and infrared light wavelengths that are not visible to the naked eyes.

Pyramidal Lenses

Solar panels perform their best under sunlight but what about the days when the clouds are hovering? Stanford engineers have developed micropyramid lenses that cannot only help generate solar energy on overcast days, but also triple the amount of light that hits solar panels. The pyramid-shaped lens can collect sunlight coming from any angle onto a solar cell and keep it collecting power from sunrise to sunset. Known as Axially Graded Index Lenses (AGILE), the pyramid structure can capture up to 90% of the light that hits its surface. The system could improve the efficiency of solar cells and boost their output in less than ideal weather and conditions as well.

Solar Panels that Work at Night

Stanford researchers have developed solar panels that can generate a small amount of electricity at night through a process known as radiative cooling. The innovation could transform solar into a 24-hour power source. The power can be generated from the temperature difference between colling panels and surrounding warm air using thermoelectric generator. These solar panels generate enough power to charge a phone, which could bypass the need to store energy in batteries in off-grid locations.

Way Ahead

Technology improvements and new innovation could make solar energy even cheaper, which would make it the most important source of electricity generation for a large part of the world by 2030. This could lead to a significant impact on the environment and climate change, reducing the need for fossil fuels and lower emissions associated with them.

According to TechSci Research report on “Solar Paint Market - Global Industry Size, Share, Trends, Competition, Opportunity and Forecast, 2017-2027 Segmented By Technology (Solar Paint Hydrogen, Quantum Dot (Photovoltaic Paint), Perovskite Solar Paint), By End User (Solar Paint to Existing Solar Setups, Solar Painted Vehicles, Standalone Power-Generating Solar Setup), By Application (Rooftop, Wall, Door, Window), By Region”, the global solar paint market is predicted to grow at a significant rate due to rising awareness about the benefits of using renewable sources of energy and finding new methods to maximize energy outputs.

According to TechSci Research report on “Global Solar Photovoltaic Glass Market By Type (Anti-Reflective Coated, Tempered, Transparent Conductive Oxide Coated & Others), By Application (Utility, Residential & Non-Residential), By End User (Crystalline Silicon PV Modules Vs Thin Film PV Modules), Competition Forecast & Opportunities, 2017 – 2027”, the global solar photovoltaic glass market is expected to grow at a significant rate during the forecast period. The market growth can be attributed to the rising awareness regarding generating reliable and clean energy and enhanced focus on the upgradation of existing buildings infrastructure. Moreover, growing initiative by the government for increasing solar panel installation is expected to drive the market growth in the coming years.