Solar Technological Advancements
While solar may seem like a revolutionary technology, its humble beginnings are more than 100 years old. Solar technology has been around since the late 1800s and has made significant advancements since then. There is so much more to solar than meets the eye. Aside from the typical uses like adding panels to a home, in a field or business, 2021 was a fantastic year for newly invented solar technology.
Let’s take a look!
Floating Photovoltaic Solar Panels
An emerging technology in the solar industry is floating solar photovoltaic systems (FPV). These are placed directly on top of bodies of water rather than a rooftop or land. The idea was first introduced in 2017, and a recent report from Technavio shows that “the FPV market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of over 31% from 2018-2022. 52% of the growth will come from the Americas.” The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that 24,419 human-made bodies of water across the country have the potential for FPV systems.
Why are floating solar panels so popular? Here are a few key reasons:
- No Loss of Valuable Land and Space– The biggest advantage to floating solar panels is they do not require land or valuable space. These panels can be placed on bodies of water such as resiviors, hydroelectric dams, wastewater treatment ponds and drinking water resivioirs.
- High Panel Performance– Solar panels are extremely durable and can perform in high temperature areas. However, with some electronics, the higher the heat the lower the power output. With solar panels placed on bodies of water, this can help keep them cool and help the panels consistently perform well, even in warmer weather.
- Environmental Benefits– Floating solar panels are not only kept cool by the water underneath, but they also provide shade which helps reduce evaporation from the pond or resi Shade also helos reduce the presence of algae in these bodies of water.
Local governments nationwide are beginning to use solar-powered LED lighting to brighten their streets and walkways. By switching streetlamps to solar-powered lighting, neighborhoods can cut down their cost of electricity, benefit from being off the grid, enjoy low maintenance (aka, never having to change a light bulb) and reduce their carbon footprint
All of these factors benefit the environment and humanity, leaving behind sustainable solutions and a greener future for generations to come.
Photovoltaic Noise Barriers
While this term may sound a little intense, PV noise barriers are truly an ellegantly simple solution for one of the most pressing environment issues: noise pollution. If you are unfamiliar with noise barriers, they are “an exterior structure designed to protect inhabitants of sensitive land use areas from noise pollution. Noise barriers are the most effective method of mitigating roadway, railway, and industrial noise sources.”
In laymen’s terms, noise pollution is any unwanted, manmade noise in the environment that can cause harm to humans, animals or the environment itself. For example, trucks and cars flying by on a highway are an example of noise pollution. Locals who live near a highway or busy street can be subject to loud and unwanted sounds that can cause hearing damage overtime or cause distractions.
The approximately 3,000 noise barriers lining U.S. highways provide amble space that can be used for solar energy production. It is even estimated that these barriers can be used to produce 400 GW of power each year. With new innovative developments, double-sided solar cells can be used to increase the performance level of the panels in any position.
So, with all this extra real estate available on America’s highways, it is kind of a no-brainer to put it to good use! Adding solar panels to the noise barrier or dividers is a great way to generate clean energy without taking up useful space!
Building Integrated Photovoltaics
Building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) serve a dual purpose. BIPV act as both the exterior of a structure and generate electricity at the same time for either on-site power or power sent to the grid off-site. According to SEIA, “BIPV systems can provide savings in materials and electricity costs, reduce pollution, and add to the architectural appeal of a building.”
Not sure what building integrated photovoltaics are supposed to look like? Take a look at the image below!
As you can see, solar power has come so far since its discovery by Edmund Becquerel in 1839. We now have the ability to harness the power of the sun practically anytime, anywhere.
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