The days of boring, clunky solar panels are long over. A new wave of sleek and creatively designed solar solutions has entered the spotlight thanks to a growing market demand and vast improvements in technology. Solar can now be integrated seamlessly into a building’s architecture, appear as a work of art, or even be taken on the go for our electronics.
Check out these unique advancements for a sun-powered world!
Building integrated photovoltaics (BIPVs) aren’t exactly new, but they are only becoming more efficient and diverse. They allow for unique design options by integrating the solar panels directly into the structure of a building, whether it be a guardrail, awning, facade, or even roof shingles. The solar facade on this school building in Copenhagen is delivering half the power needed for the entire school, and it looks like it could be in L.F. Baum’s Emerald City. BIPVs are helping to break down the stigma that solar will interrupt the aesthetics of a building, and are showing that they can actually enhance a building’s looks.
Paint-On Solar Power?
There have been rumors of solar paint for a long time, and while it seems like a futuristic fantasy, a viable option may be closer than you think. Researchers at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology have created a synthetic gel that contains a compound that absorbs moisture and a semiconductor, effectively able to absorb solar energy to split water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen that can be used as fuel. It won’t be available for a few more years, but imagine the implications of being able to paint on power!
Solar for Your Style
Researchers at Yale’s Transformative Materials and Devices Lab have developed a method for coloring solar panels without compromising their energy efficiency. Traditional polycrystalline solar panels come in blue, but there are now monocrystalline panels that are black. The option for different colors could be hugely important for solar integration and design, not to mention opening up a whole new market for fashionable solar.
Any traveler, camper, or backpacker knows that it’s important to be mindful of power consumption while on the road or in the wilderness. Instead of carrying around a heavy portable charging station or spare batteries, why not generate the power yourself? Solar-powered gear is more affordable than ever, from essentials like backpacks and flashlights to speakers and water purifiers. Never having to panic when you realize your phone’s at 1% battery? Sign us up! Check out this list of useful solar powered products.
As you are enjoying the sun this summer, consider the many buildings, machines, and gadgets being powered by the same rays that are giving you that golden tan (or sunburn!)