Three Solar Power Technology Disruptors Today and for the Future
This blog post is part of the ‘Think Further’ series sponsored by Fred Alger Management. For more “Think Further” content, please visit www.thinkfurtheralger.com.
During my years as the Green Living Guy and an expert in solar, I have seen technologies, as well as companies, come and go.
Yet today with cheaper solar, this is an amazing time for solar power. It’s never been cheaper and as widely considered the real alternative to coal, oil or nuclear. However it’s not fully affordable for all. Now while there is talk of Community Solar, technologies are also disrupting this market segment of energy.
Here are three technology disruptors that will further enhance this technology and expand market share.
1. Solar Paint – spray on solar paint is ever evolving and helping add more areas of a roof or siding that can add more electrons back to the grid.
How Does It Work?
According to OilPrice.com, titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles are coated with cadmium sulfide (CdS) or cadmium selenide (CdSe.) The composite nanoparticles, when mixed with a solvent, form a paste that can be applied as one-step paint to a transparent conducting material, which creates electricity when exposed to light.
Although the paint form is currently about five times less efficient than the highest recorded efficiency for the multifilm form, the researchers predict that its efficiency can be improved, which could lead to a simple and economically viable way to prepare solar cells
However, this paint can complement a solar array versus being the only single bullet. Simply put, it adds more real estate to where solar power can be generated on your house.
Why? To save you money on energy of course!
2. Solar laminate and Glass – Peel and Stick
Dow Chemical, Alta Devices reached 30.8 percent efficiency, Sharp all have solar laminate technology today, and other companies are creating solar laminate that can be added easily to one’s roof. They are slowly increasing the efficiency of solar laminates so there are no racks or extra weight. When the efficiency increases and becomes more cost competitive it’ll be easier to have PV be part of shingles.
Sharp is even adding solar to glass in residential settings. These solar panel windows convert around 6.8% of incoming solar energy into electricity and have a maximum output of 95 watts. This is obviously much less than conventional solar panels, which usually operates somewhere in the range 15-20%, but the new invention will be used quite differently.
Sharp will promote their product to homeowners who are looking to replace high-rise or balcony windows with models that produce electricity. Many of them might not have the opportunity to get conventional solar panels because they live in apartment buildings or for other reasons. Imagine skyscrapers being turned into massive power generators.
“If we could retrofit every high-rise building’s standard windows with this solar panel glass, buildings would each become its own power plant capable of generating at least a percentage of its energy needs,” said environmental writer David Quilty at Revmodo.”
3. Solaria – While some solar companies have folded, Solaria has increased sales and prominence. Solaria is vented PV which increases the efficiency by leaps and bounds.
These panels add another 5-7 percent efficiency. These modules utilize Solaria’s technologies developed over the last decade are cheaper than most PV panels on the market. They also have building integrated solar (windows) and for greenhouses, which help crops grow more effectively.
Several military installations are using this technology, too, like White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
“This project illustrates the U.S. Army’s commitment to going green, our focus on operating on net zero energy, and doing what we can to help protect the environment.”
– Garrison Commander Colonel Leo Pullar
So with these and other technologies coming to market, expect solar power to be our present and future energy source.