Our planet’s environmental future looks stark. The effects of climate change are becoming harder and harder to ignore: global temperatures are increasing, ice caps are melting, sea levels are rising and the weather is becoming more extreme. These disastrous environmental changes have been caused by human-made greenhouse gases, and the effects are not reversible. But, they can be delayed.
Climate change is the biggest challenge facing humanity today. With the threat to our planet so severe there is a desperate need for new innovative technologies to change the way we use and consume energy. Luckily, the future of renewable energy looks bright with the recent advancements in solar technology.
We look at the future of solar panel technology and how it is changing the energy industry – and, in turn, saving the planet.
Solar panels: how they work and their benefits
Solar panels have been instrumental in the fight to conserve the planet’s resources. The science behind how solar panels work is astounding. In short, solar panels contain photovoltaic cells (aka PV cells) which collect sunlight (photons) and convert it into usable electricity.
The benefits of solar technology are aplenty. The main benefits include:
- It is an amazing source of renewable energy, meaning that it is helping to fight against climate change.
- Because it is powered by the sun it reduces electricity bills, meaning that households and businesses can actually save money on their energy consumption (and even sell their electricity onto others).
- It has low-cost maintenance, meaning that once solar panels are installed they don’t a lot of attention (apart from being cleaned twice annually).
- They can be used in many different ways, on many different surfaces.
The disadvantages of solar technology are that getting panels installed in the first place is expensive – sometimes a bit too expensive for the average household. However, it is generally accepted that because solar panels can reduce energy bills so dramatically, it is worth the initial investment.
Another disadvantage of solar panels is that their effectiveness is weather dependent – a lot of sunlight is required to generate large amounts of electricity. This is problematic in areas of the world that experience a lot of rainy and cloudy days, or don’t experience much daylight at all (e.g. Alaska in the winter). While a few cloudy days won’t be too detrimental to the amount of energy generated, solar panels are most effective when used in hot and sunny climates.
The future of solar panels
In a move that is set to revolutionise the energy industry, scientists have developed perovskite solar cells (PSC). The material used for these advanced solar cells are made from a perovskite-structured compound which can be “printed” using industrial printing machinery. PSC cells have low embodied energy, which means their manufacturing process requires less energy and is cheaper than the production of silicon-based solar cells do – a great step towards preserving the planet’s resources. If you’re unsure about the installation at your place, always seek expert advice while fitting the flexible solar panels for the customized report and instructions.
The result: solar panels that are ultra-thin, flexible and lightweight.
What is so special about lightweight and flexible solar panels?
What makes these perovskite-based solar cells so revolutionary is their ability to be installed onto a manner of surfaces. Because they weigh just 25% of conventional solar panels, they can be moulded to fit onto surfaces that are bent instead of rigid. For example, you can install PSC solar panels on the curved edges of motorhomes, trains, caravans and boats. These solar panels can also be applied to glass and metal.
The flexibility of these panels on the surface area of which the sun’s energy can be captured. Whereas silicon-based photovoltaic cells can generally only be fixed to large rigid surface areas, PSC gives more people the opportunity to use and benefit from solar energy. And, because this particular solar technology is so much more effective at producing electricity, the amount of renewable energy used worldwide will increase.
Here is an outline of the benefits of flexible solar panels:
The ultra-thin and lightweight material of PSC solar panels mean that they can be bent and moulded to fit any surface, big or small.
PSC solar panels are typically 75% lighter than photovoltaic solar panels, meaning they can be installed on any surface.
- Custom built
Lightweight solar panels can be custom printed and cut to fit any type of surface, big or small, curved or straight.
- No light pollution
Ultra-thin solar panels are so innovative that they have a seamless appearance when fitted onto any surface. They also have no light pollution.
Flexible solar panels are easier to install than standard silicon-based solar panels due to their lightweight nature.
- Impressive performance
PSC solar panels are super effective at capturing the sun’s light and converting it into electricity.
The future of flexible, lightweight solar panels
The future of the energy industry looks hopeful. The International Energy Agency predicts that the use of solar energy will increase dramatically in the next 25 years, with solar energy being the cheapest source of new electricity generation by the year 2040.
Simply put, flexible and lightweight solar panels offer more people worldwide the opportunity to utilise renewable energy. They can get them installed on the roofs of their houses, on top of large commercial buildings, on boats, on trains, on caravans, etc. The more people that have them installed, the better we are using our resources, and the less damage we are causing to our planet.