10 Exciting Solar Technologies on the Horizon

Solar power technology continues to move forward quite rapidly, with new advancements being transformed into workable installations on practically a daily basis.

1. Water Cooled Solar Panels

A specially designed, acrylic concentrating, short focal-length lens is used by the Pyron Solar Triad to refract and reflect light to effectively concentrate within a small pinpoint of light the equivalent power of 6,500 suns. This concentrated light is captured by a secondary optic and focuses it onto a small PV cell. The company states that more than 800 times electricity is produced by the HE Optics System compared to a silicon solar cell of a similar size.


2. Home Solar into Hydrogen Storage

This year a company was formed by Daniel Nocera, an MIT professor, to commercialize a new type of technology that has the ability to “split water” as well as store solar energy. The key objective of the company is to produce a solar energy breakthrough via making solar energy widespread and inexpensive.

3. Paintable and Printable Solar Panels, Solar Roof Tiles

If it was as easy to install solar power as it is to paint your roof using solar paint or placing new shingles on your house, then the bar for home solar installation would definitely be lowered. Paintable solar technology is referred to as silicon ink.

4. Thin Large Film Solar Panels

Thin amorphous silicon based film technology is used by the SunFab system for delivering the most powerful and largest thin film panels in the world in combination with inexpensive materials and one of the most advanced fabrication technologies in the industry. The thin film solar panels from SunFab feature a frameless design, which eliminates two major field reliability challenges when it comes to thin panels: a structure integrity that weakens over time and water penetration.

5. Organic Solar Concentrators

MIT engineers have created an affordable and sophisticated method for transforming regular glass into a high-tech solar concentrator. Dye-coated glass is used for collecting and channeling light. Usually this is lost from the panel surface. The technology may enable buildings to make use of tinted windows for collecting energy. A company called GreenSun has designed bright-colored panels for capturing various part of the spectrum of the sun. Direct sunlight isn’t needed in order for them to work properly.

6. Space Based Solar

A gigantic space-based solar power generator is being developed in Japan for transmitting solar energy from 6,000km high to earth within approximately 30 years. The $21 billion project is being backed by the Japanese government. It includes a solar powered space station that contains four square kilometers worth of solar panels, that will crank out approximately 1 gigawatt of electricity – sufficient for nearly 300,000 Tokoyo homes.

7. Solar Roads

This concept from Solar Roadways would involve using glass panels to pave roads with in order to collect solar energy and distribute it for heating during the winter and lighting roads at night, with enough leftover electricity for powering businesses and homes. Scott Brusaw, the founder, has estimated that every mile worth of solar panels can power 500 houses. He estimates it would cost around $5,000 to produce one 12′ x 12′ Solar Panel Roadway panel.

8. Concentrated Solar

The SunCatcher from Stirling Energy System is comprised of a solar concentrator within a dish structure. It supports a series of curved glass mirrors, and could be deployed soon in Arizona as the first commercial-scale installation of the most efficient solar technology in the world. A system of mirrors that are fixed to a parabolic dish is used by the SunCatcher to concentrate the energy of the sun onto the very efficient Stirling Engine. Each of the dishes generates as much as 25,000 watts of power.

solar thermal suncatcher dishes

9. Nanotechnology Solar

McMaster University researchers have grown light-absorbing nanowires in Ontario that are made out of high-performance photovoltaic materials on highly durable yet thin carbon-nanotube fabric. The tiny particles have also been embedded into a flexible polyester film that can result in solar cells that are less expensive and more flexible compared to the current photovoltaics that are available.

A team from the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Southampton has developed a series of new photovoltaic devices that use a process that can be found in photosynthesis for delivering impressive quantities of electrical current from the light.

10. Integrated Grid Ready Solar

Proprietary technology from Akeena has been used to build Andalay AC solar panels. The electrical grounding, wiring and racking components are integrated into the actual panels. The company reports that this helps to protect against breakdowns as well as increase system reliability, which saves thousands of dollars over its 30 year life. Safe household AC power is produced by Andalay AC solar panels. It will allow for an easier and safer installation process for do-it-yourselfers and solar installers through reducing how many parts are needed by 80%. Potentially dangerous and complicated DC wiring is also eliminated.