The UK has developed a new form of solar power generator and storage that looks like the next big thing as far as solar energy research goes.
The technology couples thin, flexible, and lighter solar sheets that come with solar energy storage. The sheets have been designed to power buildings as well as charge vehicles off-grid.
Before COVID-19, renewable energy was a global investment theme. Then the crash in oil prices shifted everyone’s focus.
This is not the first time gas and oil prices have plummeted. It usually results in a spiked interest in alternative energy sources like solar and wind. This is a script that has played out more than once.
When Chinese factories began shutting down in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, solar panel installers thought that the journey towards achieving energy independence would take a pause.
Instead, the market got flushed with cost-effective and efficient solar panels. The prospect of a deep recession caused many business owners to make huge investments in solar films. Company owners acted fast so that in case the economy gets bad; they could be less reliant on electricity and natural gas because they’re expensive sources of energy.
Solar energy is a remarkable natural resource as it has set a significant energy record in Asia, the UK, and the world over. Many solar panel manufactures are leveraging carbon-based sheets that can absorb sunlight and produce energy almost instantaneously.
The organic photovoltaic (OPV) cells are so flexible that they can be bent into shapes during installation. This allows you to glue them to flat or curved surfaces, horizontal or vertical surfaces for maximum sunlight absorption.
Each OPV film is one-tenth the weight of the conventional panel frames, and they are not manufactured with any toxic materials. The firm estimates that each film should last about 20 years.
The efficiency of each film is placed at 13%; this stays stables as the temperatures rise. This then puts their average performance between 15 to 18%.
What differentiates OPV films from other solar panels is that they collect a wider spectrum of light. This means that they can still produce energy even on grey days.
The company behind this innovation is planning on using solar fabric to harness solar energy on the roofs of large industrial buildings. The UK can expect delivery distribution centers and supermarket warehouse roofs to be covered with solar sheets.
The firm adds that homes will not be left behind. The manufacture of solar units for residential homes is underway.
The driving force behind these projects is to create renewable energy solutions for locals to ensure business owners can power their establishments. All efforts should hopefully help the UK achieve its 2050 net-zero greenhouse gas emission target.
Energy Storage System
The plan for solar energy storage is to resort to local solutions. The harnessed energy will be stored in an electric vehicle battery or a flywheel battery to enable easy release of its charge.
This will go a long way to help combat the challenges that face electric vehicles. There is a growing demand for many electric vehicle owners to take their automobiles off the grid, and solar energy is the perfect solution.
Jo Parker-Swift, the brainchild behind this storage idea says it all started with a Laurel leaf. She has a background in biological sciences and has been a two-time business owner
She met, by chance, with two former energy company bosses and their chat got her thinking about enough solar power for her car and house to go off-grid.
Parker-Swift said when she got home, the laurel bushes in her garden gave her the idea to calculate the surface area of the laurel leaves. She even marked the leaves, so she doesn’t count any twice.
At the time, she felt that nature had the answer and all she had to do was look. Energy independence is something every business owner dreams of because depending on the grid is very expensive.
The reason why she was using a laurel bush is because she was thinking in the lines of a solar tree. Two years of solar energy research helped her figure out how her solar tree idea would help power businesses, delivery companies, homes, stadia, and so many other establishments.
Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore
Solar energy advantages are not reaped in the UK alone. The solar energy research institute of Singapore has also been working on solar energy solutions to transform the future.
A significant project that is in the pipelines is figuring out how graphene can transform the future of Singapore.
The transport sector in Singapore greatly contributes to CO2 emissions, and the government is committed to change this. We see a slow but steady entry of electric vehicles in the transport sector.
OPV films will definitely help battle the ever-rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere to combat the acidity of oceans throughout Asia.
Many businesses are keen on achieving carbon neutrality and are reacting positively to all plans to roll out energy-efficient solar films.
Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore is among the institutions that are conducting solar energy research to see if graphene can play a role in this transformation.
Graphene might be a standard 2D material, but its strength, and one-atom thickness can be resourceful for efficient conduction of heat and electricity.
Solar Energy Advantages and Disadvantages
Advantage 1: Renewable Energy Source
The main advantage of using solar energy is that it is a renewable source of energy. The beauty of natural resources like the sun is that you can never deplete them. This means you can harness energy from the sun regardless of where you are in the world.
Advantage 2: Reduces Electricity Bills
The main reason why businesses are opting for solar energy is so that they can opt-out of electricity from the grid.
Installing solar panels means you will be less reliant on the grid and as a result, your utility bills will significantly drop. The size of the solar system you install will determine how much you save on electricity bills.
In case you have surplus solar energy, you can sell it to the grid and get payment. Many businesses have connected their solar panel to the grid for profit.
Disadvantage 1: Cost
Cost is the main disadvantage when it comes to running a solar energy system. While solar panels prices have significantly dropped, the cost of purchasing a reasonably sized system is still fairly high.
Remember that to have a functional system; you have to cater for the solar panels, wiring, batteries, an inverter, as well as installation fees.
Nevertheless, solar technologies are continually advancing, and soon installation will be affordable for everyone.
Disadvantage 2: Weather Dependent
Even though solar energy is renewable, you cannot always depend on the weather to cooperate. Besides, your geographical location determines the intensity of solar energy you have access to.
During cloudy and rainy seasons, the efficiency of your solar system will significantly drop, and you’ll have to fall back on electricity from the grid.
Solar energy has gone through a tremendous process and there is more to come. Business owners should seriously consider solar energy as their route to energy independence. Solar energy research is bringing us closer to attaining reliable solar energy storage. We see a future where we won’t have to deal with expensive prices of natural gas and electricity.