Solar power was in a permanent state of advancement in 2019, with new improvements in solar panel technology announced almost weekly. In the last year alone, there were landmarks in wearable solar technology, solar energy storage, solar efficiency, and solar design tech. Keep reading to find the full update on all of the breakthroughs you should know about in the world of new solar energy products technologies.
Solar Technology: What Is New In 2019?
There are two main types of solar technologies: concentrated solar power (CSP) and photovoltaics (PV). Solar PV technology catches sunlight to produce electric power, and CSP provides the sun’s heat and uses it to produce thermal energy which powers tanks or heaters. With both of these kinds of solar energy comes a broad range of opportunities for technical innovation. Here are some of the newest emerging solar panel technologies for 2019:
Frameless Solar Panels
A significant factor in the review of solar aesthetic is that the solar panel frame, which several homeowners perceive to be the least attractive part of a PV panel. To so frameless-solar-panels one has that issue, major manufacturers like SolarWorld, Canadian Solar, and Trina are creating frameless solar modules.
The major hindrance for those decorative panels is the shortage of suitable mounting equipment that can work without a frame. Because of this, manufacturers are creating specialized mounting apparatus to meet their frameless panels. One example of that is Lumos Solar, which delivers the LSX Frameless Module in addition to its dynamic mounting solution.
Solar Skin Design
One major obstacle for the solar industry is the fact that a high ratio of homeowners believes solar panels to be unsightly home improvement. Fortunately, one new solar energy products venture has a solution. Sistine Solar, a Boston-based design company, is making significant strides with the idea of aesthetic enhancement which allows solar panels to have a customized appearance.
The MIT startup has produced a “solar skin” product, which makes it potential for solar panels to resemble the look of a roof without hindering by panel efficacy or production. Sistine Solar’s skin product was supposed to hit U.S. manufacturers in 2018 and will help to rebrand solar panels as a leisure product, not just a house efficiency update.
Solar Powered Roads
Last season paved the way for evaluations of an impressive new PV Technology — solar powered streets. The sidewalks along Route 66, America’s old interstate highway, were selected as the testing place for solar-powered sidewalk tech.
These roadways are heralded for their capacity to produce clean energy, but they also incorporate LED bulbs that could light streets at night and have the thermal heating capability to melt snow during the winter season. The next stop after sidewalk tests is to set up those roadways on specified sections of Route 66.
Though wearable solar elements are nothing new (solar-powered watches and other gadgets are in the market for many years), the last few years saw an innovation in solar fabrics: mini solar panels can now be stitched to the fabric of clothes. The wearable solar products of past, such as solar-powered watches, have been made with durable plastic material.
This new textile theory makes it feasible for solar to develop into home products such as window curtains and sparkling customer reliable tech such as heated car seats. This innovative solar technology is attributed to chemist Trisha Andrew and textile designer Marianne Fairbanks.
Clear Solar Panels
Many frameless panel layouts are entirely enclosed in a single material, usually glass. Glass solar panels use the same silicon cell technology and elements of a standard panel, but instead of being mounted onto a thick support substance, the cells are sandwiched within two glass casings. In most situations, there are bi-facial glass panels, but we’ll save that notion for later in the post.
Glass solar panels are an improvement in several ways because, along with being more visually appealing, glass panels are stronger than a standard silicon cell panel. These panels are perceived to be significantly more resistant to fire hazard and are less prone to erosion.
DSM Advanced Surfaces, Prism Solar, Sunshine, and Solar Topray Solar are a few of the significant solar glass producers in the market today. Though glass-on-glass panels are usually integrated into a skylight or construction window (like in the picture below), they aren’t really “building-integrated photovoltaics” since they’re attached into the building rather than integrated into the building envelope.
Solar Batteries: Innovation In Solar Storage
The notions of off-grid solar and storage plus solar have gained popularity in U.S. markets, and solar energy products manufacturers have taken note. The industry-popular Tesla Powerwall, a rechargeable lithium-ion battery produce launched in 2015, remains to lead the pack regarding market share and brand recognition for solar batteries.
Tesla provides two storage products, the Powerwall 2.0 for residential use and the Powerpack for commercial usage. Solar storage remains a rather expensive product in 2019, but a wave in demand from solar customers is supposed to bring more efficient and affordable batteries to advertise in 2019.
Advances In Solar Energy: The Advanced Solar Technology Breakthroughs
Solar Tracking Mounts
As solar begins to reach mainstream state, more and more Homeowners are embracing solar — even people who have roofs that are less than perfect for panels. As a result of this expansion, floor mounted solar is becoming a viable, clean energy choice, thanks in part to tracking mount technology.
Trackers enable solar panels to optimize electricity production by following the sun as it moves across the sky. PV monitoring systems tilt and change the angle of a solar array as the day goes by to best fit the position of the sun. Though this panel add-on has been ready for a while, solar manufacturers are really embracing the technology. GTM Research recently published a recent report that reveals a significant upward trend in the prevalence of monitoring systems. GTM proposes a 254 percent year-over-year increase for the PV tracking market this year. The report said that by 2021, nearly half of all ground mount arrays include solar monitoring capability.
Advances In Solar Panel Efficiency
The past few years in the solar sector are a race to the top concerning solar cell efficiency, and recent times are no different. A range of accomplishments by different panel makers have brought us to today’s recent record for solar panel capability: 23.5 percent, held by top panel producer SunPower.
The solar cell models used in mainstream businesses could also see key advancements in cost per watt — a metric that describes comparative affordability of solar panels. Thanks to American and Swiss researchers, Perovskite solar cells (as compared to silicon cells which are used predominantly today) have seen some significant breakthroughs in the previous two years. The outcome will be a solar panel which could generate 20+% efficiency while still being one of the lowest cost options available on the market.
Of course, the work does not stop there, as MIT investigators informed us in May when they announced new technologies which could double the efficiency of solar cells overall. The MIT laboratory team revealed a brand new technology concept that captures and utilizes the waste heat that’s generally emitted by solar panels. This typically released and non-harnessed renewable energy is a drawback and opportunity for advancement for solar technologies, which means this invention, could help the expense of solar to plummet even further.
Solar Thermal Fuel (STF)
There’s little disagreement when it comes to solar power’s ultimate disadvantage as a power source: storage. While the past decade has witnessed incredible growth of the PV industry, the path forward for solar energy entails an inexpensive storage solution that will make solar a genuinely renewable energy supply 24 hours a day. Though solar batteries (discussed above) are a storage possibility, they’re still not economically viable for the mainstream. Fortunately, MIT Professor Jeffrey Grossman and his team of researchers have contributed much, of the last few years creating alternative storage options for solar, the best one seems to be solar thermal fuels (STFs).
The process and technology behind STFs are like a standard battery. The STF can provide sunlight energy, save it as a charge and then deliver it when prompted. The problem with saving solar as heat, according to the team’s findings, is that heat will always dissipate over time, which explains why it’s critical that solar storage technician can charge energy as opposed to capture heat. For Grossman’s group, the most recent STF prototype is an enhancement of a prior design that enabled solar power to be stored as a liquid material. Past years saw the creation of a proper state STF application that could be implemented in windshields, car tops, windows, and other surfaces exposed to sunlight.
Solar Water Heaters
Stanford University researchers co-operated with the Department of Energy this year to form a new solar device that can purify water when subjected to sunlight. The minuscule tablet (approximately half the size of a postage stamp) isn’t the first solar apparatus to filter water, but it has gained notable strides in performance compared to earlier inventions.
Prior purifier designs required to exploit UV rays and required hours of sunlight exposure to purify water completely. By comparison, Stanford’s new product can get visible light and just needs a couple of minutes to generate reliable drinking water. Since the technology behind solar purifiers advances to develop, expect these chiclet-sized units to come to market with campers and hikers in mind as a perfect customer audience.
What New Solar Technology Means For Homeowners In 2019
For those thinking for solar panels systems, this lengthy record of Solar panel technology additions from the last few years is nothing but great news. Performance upgrades, storage improvements, and equipment capabilities all contribute to more efficient power output for solar panels and reduced prices for systems. Lots of the products discussed in this guide, like solar batteries and tracking mounts, can be found in the EnergySage Solar Marketplace — all you need to do is indicate your preference for specific equipment options when you enroll your property.
Three Tips For Solar Shoppers
1. Homeowners Who Get Several Quotes Save 10 Percent Or More
Just like any big ticket buying, buying a solar panel connection requires plenty of consideration and research, including a comprehensive review of the companies in your area. A recent report from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) advised that customers consider as several solar alternatives as possible to avoid spending increased prices proposed by the big installers in the solar sector.
To locate the smaller contractors that generally offer lower Costs, you will have to use an installer network such as EnergySage. You may get free quotations from vetted installers near to you once you list your property on the Solar Market- homeowners who get 3 or more estimates can expect to save $5,000 to $10,000 on their own solar panel installation.
2. The largest Installers Generally Don’t Offer You The Best Cost
The bigger isn’t necessarily better mantra is one of the key reasons we strongly urge homeowners to think about all their solar possibilities, not just the brands big enough to cover the extensive advertising. An up-to-date report from the U.S. government discovered that big installers are $2,000 to $5,000 more expensive than small solar firms. In case you have offers from some of the enormous installers in solar; ensure you compare these bids with quotations from local installers to make sure you don’t overpay for solar.
3. Analyzing All Your Equipment Options Is Just As Important
National-scale contractors do not only offer higher costs — they also often have fewer solar equipment choices, which may have a substantial effect on your system’s energy generation. By collecting a diverse selection of solar bids, you can compare prices and savings based on the different equipment packages that are available to you.
There are multiple factors to consider when looking for the best panels in the industry. While explicit panels will have greater energy ratings than others, spending in top-of-the-line solar gear does not inevitably result in more significant savings. The only method to find the “sweet spot” for your house is to assess quotes with different devices and funding offers.