The 5 biggest game-changing solar panel technologies

A solar panel is a device that converts the sun into electricity, without any fuel. PV technology exploits the photoelectric effect, which creates an electric current in a material upon exposure to irradiance.

In the last decade, the world has experienced a major energy shift. After the acknowledgment of the dangers of fossil coal use, international governments have turned their look to renewable energy sources to build a sustainable future. Amongst clean energy sources, solar energy represents a promising option to reduce carbon footprint.

Bell Labs invented the first silicon solar cell in 1954, but it is only in the past ten years that solar PV has established itself as a solution to address both the world’s energy growing demand challenge and greenhouse gas concern.

Floating solar plants aka Floatvoltaics

Floating solar PV aka Floatvoltaic is an exciting emerging market. It consists of a PV system that floats on the surface of drinking water reservoirs, quarry lakes, irrigation canals or remediation and tailing ponds. According to a World Bank report, as of the end of September 2019, the global cumulative installed capacity of floating PV plants was 1.1 GW. Floating solar PV are particularly suited for Asia, where there are many hydroelectric dams with existing transmission infrastructure. In fact, the continent hosts the top 10 floating solar PV plants in the world (China, Japan, and Republic of Korea). Europe has a huge potential for floating PV, especially in the Netherlands and France. Floating solar plants have many advantages when compared with traditional PV plants.

Solar power in space

Take a look into the future! By 2040, Japan has planned a space-based solar station. According to an IEEE article by Susumu Sasaki, a professor emeritus at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa), the country plans to create a 1.8-mile-long (3 km) man-made island in the harbor of Tokyo Bay. This sunlight collector and generator will be able to collect energy from the sun 24 hours a day and provide the same output as a nuclear power plant.

Solar cell fabrics

Solar cell fabric is a fabric with embedded photovoltaic which generates electricity when exposed to light. The idea of a wearable solar-powered textile comes from Trisha Andrew, a chemist, and Marianne Fairbanks, a designer with a shared passion for solar energy. The idea of a garment that could power your phone, however, is not that new. Since then, solar fabrics have been incorporated into stadium covers, solar canopies, carports, and even wearable art, but Andrew and Fairbanks’s aim has been to develop a type of fabric superior in density, breathability, and quality. Recently, Pvilion- a Brooklyn-based solar company has collaborated with Tommy Hilfiger to make solar-powered jackets. Amongst the main benefits, there is a significant reduction in electricity usage and overcoming the problem of batteries running out.

Photovoltaic solar noise barriers (PVNB)

Photovoltaic solar noise barriers (PVNB) are noise barrier systems with PV solar technology integrated designed to produce renewable energy and lower noise levels at the same time. The first installation of photovoltaic solar noise barriers happened in Switzerland in 1989 and since then many others have followed.

Building Integrated photovoltaic (BIPV)

Recent technological advances have made PVs suitable for direct integration into building construction. PV can be integrated into the building architecture and replace traditional elements with semi-transparent thin-film or crystalline solar panels. Building Integrated Photovoltaics refers to the application of PV in which the system is both producing energies and taking on the role of a building element. BIPV technology can be used on the building’s facades, atrium, terrace floor, and canopies and become an integral part of the building. BIPV can be also aesthetically appealing and used to camouflage unattractive building exteriors. According to the market analysts, an estimated yearly growth rate of 18.7% and a total of 5.4 GW has been produced and installed across the globe between 2013 and 2019.

archelios™ Pro

Every kind of panels, except from those for the space solar station, can be simulated by archelios™ Pro, the powerful, innovative and easy-to-use software for feasibility and bankability study, simulation,  3D design and sizing of any photovoltaic project. Thanks to its export function, it allows this design to be used in the following stages of the project life cycle with archelios™ Calc for electrical sizing and archelios™ O&M for supervision. It is possible to export a project to AutoCAD (.DXF) for the layout and to MS Excel (.CSV) for the description of the installation and the simulation results.


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