When you have an ample source of renewable energy, why waste non-renewable alternatives? It seems, the government of USA has given this a careful thought and has proclaimed a plan to maximize the production of solar panels in the first half of 2016 to 35 gigawatts. When compared to the amount of solar panels developed worldwide, this number is exceptionally very large. Thanks to the declining cost of installing and developing solar panels, the market for these will grow globally by 2017.
Even if the solar panel market is new, one cannot deny its potential as an alternative to fossil fuels. On many occasions, we have seen these panels being used for solar pool heating or for lighting up an apartment. But you will be quite surprised to see how this energy is used in some unexpected areas. Here are 10 of the most unexpected uses of solar power that will leave you awestruck.
When a massive ranch in Florida went up for sale 10 years ago, on a piece of land five times the size of Manhattan, the owners had offers from buyers around the world. But instead of selling to the highest bidder, they chose a developer that would preserve most of the land—and turn the rest into what’s attempting to be the most sustainable new town in the United States.
“We came to them and we said, look, we want to preserve as much of this as possible, and then create the most sustainable new town that has really ever been attempted,” says Syd Kitson, chairman and CEO of Kitson and Partners, the developer of the new town, called Babcock Ranch.
After a decade of planning, the town is now under construction. Florida Power & Light, the local utility, is building a huge new solar farm on the property—with 350,000 solar panels—which will power the entire community of 50,000 people.
Solar power cells need to stay relatively cool for the sake of both efficiency and longevity, but active cooling like ventilation isn’t practical; it’s expensive, and may block the very rays the cells are supposed to collect. To tackle this problem, Stanford University researchers have created a new form of solar cell that cools itself. The technique embeds a pattern of very small cone and pyramid shapes into the collector’s silica surface, bouncing hot infrared wavelengths away while letting in the visible light that generates the most energy.
The result is a heavily optimized panel that not only scoops up more power, but avoids cooking itself to death — it’s very nearly ideal, according to scientists. The Stanford team has a long way to go it still has to try the self-cooling tech outdoors, but it foresees commercial products. Don’t be surprised if you can eventually install a refined solar array at home that not only powers more of your gadgets, but doesn’t need to be replaced after suffering through a few too many scorching summers.
If you have noticed the design and layout of solar panels around, you would have thought a minute or two about its aesthetics. Though not too bad, the dark colored cells could be a put off. Scientists have now decided to add some color to them. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute of Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF in Germany are working on a new type of photovoltaic using thin film technology to give some color to the panels.
These days, clothing is so much more than something to cover you up and keep you sheltered from the elements. Manufactures are making clothes do unbelievable things. The latest addition to this list of functional clothing is Wearable Solar, the brainchild of Gelderland Valoriseer’s Christiaan Holland, fashion designer Pauline van Dongen, and solar-panel specialist Gertjan Jongerden. Wearable Solar is a line of clothing that boasts embedded solar panels wired to allow for personal device charging; basically, it turns you into a walking talking charger! Just plug in your Smartphone and get it charged while you are on a leisurely walk through the park.
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For luxury yacht owners, switching to solar power isn’t about saving money on electricity costs. It’s about silencing a noisy generator that threatens the tranquility of a cruise off the coast of Saint-Tropez.
That’s why the Ned Ship Group and STR Europe have partnered on plans to build a pair of extremely luxurious multihulls that combine solar cells with either electric or hybrid powerplants. A 65-foot catamaran can be used as either a private yacht or well-appointed ferry, while a 131-foot trimaran will feature a pool and several entertainment areas.