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Last updated: 06 June 2018

The Future of Solar Energy

From Whence Solar Energy Came

When talking about solar energy, almost everyone immediately thinks about big and bulky panels on roofs in order to produce electricity for your household. However, the past, present, and future show that solar energy has never been just a one-trick pony. The futuristic spray-on solar panels to turn virtually anything into an energy-producer reinforces this best.

Apart from different ways of harnessing the sun’s energy to heat places and do other things, serious development regarding solar energy is just about 150 years old. Different scientists in France, Britain, and India developed devices with lots of mirrors to concentrate light rays in order to heat water and produce steam. This is known as solar water heating, or solar thermal.

Solar thermal was deemed to be effective in tropical climates like Algeria and in India, which both used lots of coal for its energy productions. However, when coal prices experienced a significant drop towards the end of the 19th century, development of solar thermal came to a halt, and was not followed too much any more.

Read more: How to Save Money With Solar Energy

Solar Energy’s Second Life

For industrial mass production, fossil fuels became the weapon of choice, fuelling needs of people and countless wars throughout the 20th century. Solar energy only became interesting when man started exploring space. As it is not viable to take along massive amounts of fuel into space, solar collectors in the form of sails were used to harness energy in space.

Although heavy investments for faster development were made, it took decades for domestic solar panels to reach the current effectivenesses of around 20% of turning sunlight into energy. Especially the 1970’s were the real beginning for solar energy, as technological improvements initiated a massive price drop. Nowadays, solar panels are 99% cheaper than they were before 1970.

In our time,countries like China can afford to produce similar quality panels at much lower costs than producers in Europe or America ever could. Furthermore, many governments offer energy feed-in tariffs, and other renewable energy investment schemes that make solar technology accessible and more tempting to an increasing number of households.

Read more: 10 Things You Need to Know Before Buying Solar Panels in the UK

The Future - Spray-On Panel

A technology to possibly initiate a massive paradigm shift in energy production could be spray-on panels. They are a brand new technology for solar panels, which is currently in its testing phase.. Spray-on panels are based on an organometal called perovskite, which is mainly made of calcium titanate. The substance can also harness energy, similarly like silicium in regular panels. However, at a much more affordable price.

Furthermore, spray-on solar panels have another crucial advantage over their predecessors: they can be applied to almost any surface or shape. Imagine spraying the back cover of your phone with the so-called spray, then just putting it out into the sun in order to recharge the battery. Apart from heralding a turning point in the type of our everyday energy, if anyone on Earth is able to create their own energy station, energy production will not be limited to a few monopolists any longer.

However, the spray-on technology is still under development, but towards very promising directions. In laboratory tests, these solar panels already managed to reach 11% efficiency, which is extraordinary considering a mere test device. Latest experiments even managed to reach up to 19% - a value the solar industry was researching a long time when trying to reach this efficiency for the bulky solar panels.

Read more: New Coating Makes Solar Cells More Powerful