How Technology might help us Solve our Energy Problems

How Technology might help us Solve our Energy Problems
pic credit: IWS

Humanity has made exponential development since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Indeed, the last two centuries have likely outrun a few thousand years of progress prior to the revolution.

Civilization Needs more Energy to make Progress

Our civilization has progressed to a level that would have been unthinkable just half a century ago. All of this, however, has come at a high cost. Society needs the energy to progress. Much of that has come from fossil fuels for us.

Coal, Petroleum, and Natural Gas have powered our rise as the world’s dominant species, but their overexploitation has resulted in some grave consequences.

Civilization Needs more Energy to make Progress
pic credit: YouTube|GoogleImages

It’s clearly obvious that our activities have disastrous consequences for the earth we live on. Even the most ardent skeptic now accept that we must modify our habits if we are to survive long on this planet.

Renewable energy sources can help in this situation. Solar power, out of all the renewable energy sources, has the most potential. This is due to the fact that the Sun appears in the sky every single day.

Renewable sources image
Image Source: Chariot Energy

It also produces enormous amounts of energy. Did you know that the quantity of solar energy that hits our planet every hour is enough to power the whole human population for a year? Imagine if we were able to utilize all of that power! We would have access to far more energy than we could ever use!

Solar cells have long been used to convert sunlight into power. And technology has progressed significantly in this field over the years. As a result, solar panels have grown less expensive and more efficient than ever before.

This is why people are beginning to adopt them and installing them on their rooftops, in their backyards, and anywhere else they can fit. As a result, they will be able to use a cleaner source of energy to power their lives. They also don’t have to depend on the grid as much.

This can be useful in the event of power failure, especially in underdeveloped countries. Large organizations are starting to build full solar farms to power their businesses from start to end.

Apple Solar Energy
Apple’s headquarter is situated in California, known as ‘Apple Park’  is powered by 100 percent renewable energy.    Image Source: Solar.com

One of the most well-known examples is Apple. Governments, too, have taken the lead and started massive programs to store solar energy and increase its role in the overall power structure of their countries.

Despite our progress, however, the rate of solar power adoption is still not as great as it should be. It also has its own set of constraints, most of which are related to solar panels, their housing, maintenance, and replacement, among other things.

But there is a new piece of cutting-edge technology in the future that might address all of our problems and make solar power the default option for everyone. Glass Solar Panels are a brand-new and exciting technology.

The windows in your home and office, the windscreen of your car, and any other transparent surface can act as a solar panel. How cool would that be? If we could pull this off, we could harness more solar power than ever thought possible before.

Entire skyscrapers might function as mini-power plants, and we’d never have to worry about a power outage or the usual environmental impacts of fossil fuels.

This is a futuristic concept. A world powered entirely by solar energy. Fortunately, we are taking steps toward realizing this vision. Glass solar panels will play a vital role in this.

What is a Glass Solar Panel

What is a solar panel made of glass? Well, it’s basically a solar photovoltaic panel that is 100 percent transparent.

A glass solar panel, like traditional solar panels, can convert sunlight into electricity. While this may sound like science fiction, many research groups across the world have created various types of glass solar panels and have even proven that the concept works.

The Incheon University in South Korea is the first institution worth mentioning. South Korean researchers are working on a technology that uses Titanium dioxide (TiO2) and Nickel oxide (NiO) to replace the semiconductors in solar panels.

It’s important to note that the semiconductors in a solar panel are what make it opaque. To achieve transparency, replacing them with see-through compounds like titanium dioxide and nickel oxide is a smart approach.

The team was able to attain a 2.1 percent efficiency, which isn’t particularly impressive but sufficient for smartphone charging. More time is needed for the project to improve and become viable in the future.

Ubiquitous Energy, based in the United States, is one of the top businesses researching this technology. Ubiquitous Energy has developed a far more advanced solar panel made of glass. It’s not quite a panel, but more of a coating.

Their method involves applying an organic layer on plain glass. While allowing visible light through, this layer may selectively absorb and convert ultraviolet and near-infrared light to electricity.

Visible light glass
Image Source: Google Pics

This achieves transparency while also harvesting sunlight. What’s particularly impressive about this project is that it has managed to attain an efficiency of about 10%. This is important given that typical solar panels have an efficiency of just 15-20%.

With additional research and development, that 10% is just going to get better in the future. Another benefit of Ubiquitous’ technology is that its coating can help filter heat from the sun, reducing cooling expenses inside a building.

The team is currently working to scale this technique so that it can be applied to huge window panes at a low cost. They intend to license their technique to many glassmakers once it is completed.

We may expect all new buildings (particularly skyscrapers) to have the next-generation glass solar panel coating once manufacturers adopt this technology.

Finally, there’s ClearVue, which is based in Australia. Visible light can pass through a pane of glass thanks to ClearVue’s proprietary technology. Other wavelengths of light, such as infrared and ultraviolet, are deflected to the edges of the glass at the same time. Then they’re converted into electricity.

Also Read: What is Wind Turbines and What is the environmental impact of wind turbines?

IR UV Visible light
Image Source: Google Pics

This is similar to the method used by Ubiquitous Energy. However, there are significant differences. ClearVue’s technology contains a Polyvinyl Butyral interlayer wedged between two panes of glass, whereas Ubiquitous’ uses a coating on top of a glass.

Polyvinyl Butyral Interlayer
Image Source: Google Pics

In fact, before being deflected to the edges of the glass panel, UV light is converted into Infrared. Solar glass panels, according to the company, may generate 30 Watts per square meter. ClearVue’s technology, if integrated throughout a structure, could potentially power an office’s lighting.

Manufacturers have already begun to work with the company. They’ve even signed a letter of intent with a theme park developer in the United States.

Many more research groups and firms are working on new and innovative technologies that will make glass solar panels a no-brainer for everyone in the world. 

The ones described above, on the other hand, are leading projects that are very close to becoming implemented in the real world.

Let’s talk about the advantages and disadvantages of this technology now that we’ve looked at its current state. Let’s start with the benefits.

Benefits of Glass Solar Panels

Traditional solar panels have a big weakness that glass solar panels solve. They don’t require separate and dedicated space for installation. They can simply be integrated into the current building structures.

As a result, they can be used on a much larger scale around the world. They are also low-maintenance because they are impervious. As such, they don’t sustain damage over the long run as traditional solar panels do.

Solar panels made of glass are also safer because they are less prone to catching fire. Furthermore, as previously indicated, glass solar panels can block solar heat, reducing the cooling requirements within a building. This provides further cost advantages and is definitely better for the environment.

Also Read: Are we at the dawn of a new world of technological progress

Drawbacks

Right now, the main drawback is that the technology has taken a long time to develop. And from the looks of it, it will still take some time until it becomes an everyday thing. 

Glass solar panels now have a much lower efficiency than traditional solar panels. The technology simply is still not developed enough to match or even exceed the efficiency of today’s solar panels.

Glass solar panels are also more likely to break, resulting in higher replacement expenses. Glass solar panels appear to be the way of the future in one manner or another.

Conclusion

A wise man once said, “Nothing can stop an idea whose time has come.” And from the way things stand in the world, the time for these panels has already come. With more progress in this area, it would be safe to say that glass solar panels will power the future of humanity. 

What are your thoughts on this technological advancement? Do you think it’ll be implemented globally? Please let me know what you think in the comments section below, and I’ll see you in the next post!

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