Renewable Energy: Solar Panels Reinvented

Image by Oregon Dept of Transportation via Flickr Creative Common license.

Image by Oregon Dept of Transportation via Flickr Creative Common license.

Although the sun generates enough energy during the span of one hour to satisfy global energy needs for an entire year, this renewable energy source is meeting less than one percent of our current energy demands.  Yes, more and more people are searching for and turning to alternative energy options, but not everyone is interested in adding “traditional” solar panels to their homes or buildings. In some instances, adding these types of solar panels is simply not feasible. We need other options.

Fortunately, manufacturers have come up with a number of innovative options which reinvent the solar panel:

Solar shingles

One of the first options is solar shingles, which CleanTechnica points out have become a renewable energy solution with curb appeal. These solar shingles are less clumpy, more cost-effective and blend a little bit more smoothly with people’s roofs. It’s a subtle change to some, however it’s one we could see showing up more and more.

Glass roof tiles

While similar to solar singles, glass roof tiles are one of my favorites because I love tiled roofs. Instead of using terracotta, slate or concrete, glass roof tiles are used to capture solar energy from the sun’s rays in order to keep your house warm during the heat of summer, as well as in the cold winter months. Not only are these stylish in design, but one single system can generate around 350 kWh of heat per square meter.

Peel-and-Stick Photovoltaic Laminates

The photovoltaic (PV) laminate, also often known as a peel-and-stick solar panel, is an innovation the world has needed for a very long time. With peel-and-stick solar panels, almost any surface can be turned into a collection device for solar energy. These solar panel laminates are extremely flexible, so can be placed on areas for which solar may have been previously inaccessible. DIYers can even add these to their own roofs to begin capitalizing on the power of the sun right away. Oh, and by the way, these particular ones were invented in the early 70s.

Invisible solar cells

Now, if you want to think on a broad scale, how about invisible solar cells? These invisible or transparent solar cells created and manufactured by Ubiquitous Energy could be enough to power entire skyscrapers. The idea behind these solar cells is instead of using only a portion on the surface of a building’s roof to capture the power of the sun, why not use all the windows, doors or other surfaces to capture even more energy?

Think about it…the surface of a skyscraper is mostly windows. What if all those windows had invisible solar cells on them? These solar cells would have an adverse effect on the aesthetics of the building, but it would allow the building to operate using a larger share of renewable energy. Even smaller buildings and homes could use these transparent solar cells to begin generating energy. No more having to make massive alterations or costly design changes. Just add these cells and turn your energy-guzzling building into a renewable energy machine.

Most efficient solar panels

Those who are holding out for more efficient solar panels will be pleased to know Elon Musk has unveiled the world’s most efficient solar panel.

I’m sure solar panels will continue to evolve as the world moves closer to 100 percent renewables. For now, at least we’ve got a variety of cool ways to begin tapping into the sun’s power. Step away from the idea you need a lot of space, a lot of money, or a large roof to install solar. With so many available choices, no matter what your solar preference may be, an option exists for you.

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