Eccentric Energy: Shining a light on solar
With the UK enjoying sunny weather over recent weeks, we thought it’d be a good time to focus on eccentric energy ideas that harness the sun’s power.
Solar panels paving the way
According to its 2017 review of the world’s energy market, the International Energy Agency (IEA) states that “China represents half of global [photovoltaics – solar cells that convert energy from the sun] PV demand.” The report adds: “Chinese companies account for around 60% of total annual solar cell manufacturing capacity globally.”
As part of this investment in a sustainable future, the nation has built a 2km-long solar panelled highway. In Jinan, eastern China, the “sunshine motorway” can power the street lights, billboards and CCTV along its route and melt falling snow, making driving safer. Any excess power is fed back to the grid.
The revolutionary project is paving the way for the future too: it’s hoped that it will boost China’s electric vehicle (EV) sales by supporting on-the-go-charging.
New windows of opportunity
Solar PV manufacturer Polysolar has created a new type of solar panel that’s transparent. These solar windows generate 5kWh of power every month for every 120cm x 60cm installation; it’s also possible to convert existing windows into solar panels.
Although a standard panel currently costs around twice as much as a typical window pane, the company estimates that volume production could help drop the price to just 10% more. With the global market set to grow by $26bn by 2022, Polysolar’s transparent panels may start appearing in greenhouses and bus stops as well as offices and homes.
In countries such as Kenya and Uganda, accessing electricity can be very difficult so people often live off the grid. Kenyan-based company M-Kopa Solar provides solar powered solutions across the country where low energy consumption is crucial.
The company’s even created a solar powered TV set – ideal for those who’d otherwise use power sources such as car batteries and kerosene. M-Kopa Solar also offers payment plan options to make their technology more affordable.