Solar innovations for the future

Posted 13/11/2019 by E.ON

Most people know about that solar panels exist, and that you can now store the power you generate in the day and use it at night too. 

But there are lots of lesser known exciting solar innovations being developed across the globe too. Here are some of our favourites… 

Solar paint

Researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne have developed a unique solar paint that they believe could be as efficient as solar panels within just a few years. The paint contains a newly developed compound that acts like silica gel (which is normally found in sachets in products like electronics to absorb moisture) to generate hydrogen fuel. The new material is called synthetic molybdenum-sulphide and it enables hydrogen fuel to be created from anywhere with water vapour in the air, even in very hot and dry locations close to the ocean.

Solar windows

Engineering researchers at Michigan State University are developing transparent solar glass panels, which they claim are the future of solar energy and could eventually replace photovoltaic (or PV) panels. The solar glass can be applied to existing windows on cars and buildings and the team believe that if all of the existing buildings in the US were to install it, the country could increase its energy from solar power to 40% (it's currently 7%). 


Solar cars

The Lightyear One is a solar-powered car launched in 2019 by a Dutch company. The car’s bonnet and roof comprise solar panels meaning it’s recharged by the sun during daylight hours. It's built from carbon fibre and aluminium so that it's lighter than the average car and uses less energy per journey. It can be recharged at charging points just like traditional electric cars too when sunlight hours are not enough to get drivers as far as they need to go.

Solar roads

There are several solar road test projects running worldwide but Dutch company, SolaRoad, installed the world's first public solar road in Krommenie, The Netherlands. This 90-meter long cycle path has been in place since 2014 and the energy generated by it is fed into the national grid. During the testing phases several combinations of solar cells and coating technologies were tried out to find the most effective. Once it was all up and running and open to the public, the road exceeded expectations and generated enough electricity to power three homes a year. 

Solar trains

A part of the UK rail network at Aldershot, Hampshire is the first in the world to be powered by its own dedicated solar farm. This pilot scheme is hopefully the first step in a larger project that will see all of the trains on this route powered by solar rather than diesel; and many other lines around the country switched to solar. 

While solar photovoltaic panels offer a great way for people to generate their own energy at home today, inventions like these continue to push boundaries around the world in efforts to find more new ways to harness clean energy. 

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