The Newest Solar Technology

Solar power has been in a constant state of evolution throughout the last several years and since the introduction of solar power in the 1960’s, the growth has been astronomical. 
In the last year alone, the solar energy market has seen improvements and changes being made almost weekly by start-ups building new solar powered products as well as researchers and governmental organizations. 
There are two distinct types of solar technology and those are concentrated solar power (CSP) that uses the heat from the sun to produce thermal energy to power turbines and heaters and photovoltaics (PV) which uses sunlight to generate electrical power.
The Newest Solar Technology
The Newest Solar Technology
A PV is made up of hundreds of solar cells that work individually to convert the light from the sun into electrical currents. On average, about 85% or even more of the sunlight is not used at all. This means that only around 15% actually makes it produce electricity. 
Vast research has been in place for many years to increase the efficiency of PV systems and great strides have been taken as recently as within the last year. Let’s take a look at some of the newest solar technology to that has emerged and will continue to develop as the year progresses.

Solar Panels with Battery Built-In

The U.S. Department of Energy funded a project hosted by Ohio State University to create a battery that is not only less expensive than other batteries but also more efficient by 20%. 
This battery is rechargeable and is built into solar panels instead of having them as two separate units. Pairing the battery with the solar panels instead of selling and using separately can cut costs by 25% over the cost of the standalone batteries and solar panels. 

Tracking Mount Technology

As solar power has become an option for more homeowners over the years, we have seen a great demand for roofing professionals who can inspect roofs and help with solar panel installation. 
Roofing specialists at Shelton Roofing in California stated they have had an increase of more than 30% in the last year of customers who have sought help with making sure their roofing is in good shape for holding the weight of solar panels. 
While a roofer can repair or replace a roof to make sure it is in the right condition for panels, some customers are now able to use ground mounted solar as there have been great advancements to tracking mount technology in recent years. 
Tracking Mount technology positions solar panels on the ground where they tip and track the movement of the sun throughout the day. This allows the same penetration as with roof mounted panels and lets environmentally conscious homeowners install solar power with the PV tracking systems on the ground. 

Solar Powered Fabric Options 

We have already seen solar powered clothing and accessories including jackets with heat units and solar powered watches, but recent solar technology has expanded to solar textiles that allow for very small solar panels to be sewn directly into clothing. 
This new technology can be used for clothing, but it can also be used in products like heated automobile seats, curtains and even tents. The solar textile was developed by chemist Trisha Andrew and textile designer Marianne Fairbanks. 
While the technology has been around for several years to incorporate solar panels into clothing and textiles, it has always been plastic or hard materials including glass that could be broken. The pair have been working with companies to incorporate their ideas into products and one of those include the Air Force who is working to produce solar tents for soldiers. 
According to Marianne Fairbanks, in the future, this solar powered textile could be used in many products including shelters, athletic clothing and gear and much more. 

Solar Roadways

Work is underway currently to line highways with solar panels and has already been implemented in Norway. Solar lined roads allow for lighting to be used on the roadway while reducing the strain on the power grid. They also allow for lines and signage to be used without the need for paint and can efficiently melt snow and ice with no chemicals needed. 

Solar Water Purification

The Department of Energy worked with Stanford University to develop a system to purify water with a solar device. Solar devices have been used for several years but they could take hours to purify water. 
The new device works to access visible light rather than heat from the sun and it takes just a few minutes to purify water. The new device is also much smaller than previous devices and due to this, takes up less space that can not be utilized for other construction needs. 
Homeowners will be able to take advantage of many advances in solar technology this year. On a larger scale, businesses and entire city and country infrastructures could soon see big changes as well. 
Technological advances in coming years will work to help keep traffic flowing, cut energy costs to citizens and keep harmful emissions from the atmosphere in order to help cut the carbon footprint worldwide. 
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