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Top 10 Latest Technology in Solar Panels 2024

latest in solar technology

Solar panels can help reduce your energy consumption, reduce your carbon footprint and help you combat climate change. A solar power system does all of that by harnessing solar energy – the most abundant form of energy there is. With a plethora of applications and space to install solar panels on, the demand soars, and investments into the field do as well. This is only one of the reasons why there are so many different solar system solutions. Let’s read on and learn more about them. 

First things first, there are three basic types of solar panels

  1. Monocrystalline solar panels, 
  2. Polycrystalline solar panels, and 
  3. Thin-film solar panels. 

Each of these has its own pros and cons, and some special applications that other types of solar panels are not a good fit for. If you would like to rely on solar power generation for your own energy needs, you should know that solar energy is present almost everywhere and that a good portion of US households can install a solar PV system on their rooftop without worrying about getting enough sun exposure. 

There is one crucial difference between the types of solar panels mentioned above, the type of silicone crystal used in their solar cells. With monocrystalline solar panels, each solar cell is made of a single silicon crystal. This makes them highly efficient, but also costlier than other types of solar panels. 

They perform better in the wintertime as well as in the heat of the summer. Since they are more efficient, they are the perfect solution for those living up north, with lower solar irradiation. They are also the best solution for those who have space limitations, as fewer panels are needed to do the same work. They are generally 15-22% efficient

Polycrystalline solar panels, on the other hand, are made of many smaller chunks of silicon crystal that are melted together. This makes them much cheaper, but also less efficient. They are the best solution for homes with no lack of rooftop space, as well as for industrial applications, in large-scale solar farms. This is a very common type of panel for sunlight conversion

Thin-film solar panels, on the other hand, are thin solar panels that are flexible as well. The flexibility comes from the fact that solar cells are printed on thin sheets of plastic. They have low efficiency but are perfect for irregularly shaped roofs, buildings, etc. They are also very inexpensive, but can still reduce your effective electric rate

Latest Technological Improvements in the Solar Industry

As solar energy systems are the way to produce electricity in the future, the market has ensured that there is a lot of innovation and different products that you can choose from. As no two families or sites are exactly alike, it is necessary to ensure that there is a product for every need. For this reason, specialized kinds of solar panels exist and they are likely to gain in popularity. 

Furthermore, building integrated photovoltaics is a trend to be aware of, as more buildings and homes come with integrated solar systems. They can either be solar panels already fixed to the rooftop, or solar tiles. The fact is that solar is becoming a standard, rather than an extra, or a luxury item as it was as little as 20 years ago. As the solar market keeps expanding, renewable energy will start to represent a larger portion of the total energy portfolio

With a market this big and with still a lot of room for expansion, many innovations take place. We will cover the following latest tech improvements in the solar industry

  • Agri Voltaic systems, 
  • Insolight panel coating, 
  • Heterojunction technologies, 
  • Floating solar farms, 
  • Building-integrated photovoltaics, 
  • Solar skins, 
  • Solar fabric, 
  • Photovoltaic solar noise barriers, 
  • Solar cell technological improvements, and 
  • Improvements in solar storage costs. 

1.) Agrivoltaics

As we all know, solar power is the driving force behind the most important chemical reaction on the planet – photosynthesis. In this reaction, plants use sunlight to convert carbon from CO2 into plant sugars which the life on the entire planet depends on. However, rising global temperatures and CO2 concentrations put a strain on plants in much of the world, causing them to cease photosynthesis during the hottest part of the day. 

Agrivoltaic technology looks to solve this issue. In an agrivoltaic setup, a special kind of solar panel is placed on pillars ABOVE the plant matter. The solar panels have solar panels with larger spacing between them and the structure of the panel itself is transparent – usually made of glass or a sturdy plastic material. This way, a solar panel acts as a shading cloth – providing partial shade to the plants underneath and helping boost their growth. 

At the same time, the panels are used for energy production, which makes the system more sustainable. This is a great example of how a cogeneration system (biomass + solar power) can provide benefits for both production spheres – plants can produce more biomass due to less sun exposure, reduced evaporation, and prolonged photosynthesis times. Panels, on the other hand, reach higher efficiencies since they get cooled by the cool air underneath them. Panels at the same time provide an additional source of income for the farmer, increasing their resiliency and reducing their dependence on the market. 

2.) Insolight Panel Coating

Insolight panel coating enables solar panels to generate electricity with up to 30% efficiency. This kind of solar panel is covered in a layer of hexagonal (like a beehive frame), lenses that focus sunlight on specific spots on the silicon layer. This is a great move forward, as most panels so far had efficiencies of up to 22%. A small step forward could help reduce the costs of installation, as the lenses are cheap to manufacture. They could also help reduce the area necessary for solar panel installation and make more homes suitable for solar equipment installation. 

3.) Heterojunction Technologies [HJT]

Heterojunction technologies rely heavily on the idea of bifocal (sometimes called bifacial) solar panels. The energy production in these panels relies heavily on a standard solar panel. However, the solar cells in a solar PV module like this are coated in a thin-film silicon layer which is supposed to help increase the system’s performance. The layers add an additional 3% of efficiency to the panels, bringing the renewable energy conversion rate up to 25%. 

4.) Floating Solar Farms

Floating solar farms are another innovation in solar energy generation and harvesting. These types of solar farms offer multiple benefits and are a great example of how a single-generation or storage system can be turned into a cogeneration system. In a system like this, a solar farm is mounted on special floating bearings which are then placed over large surfaces of water. 

These floating solar farms can then be placed over fisheries, irrigation canals, water storage lakes, or hydro-accumulations. The benefits of a system like this are multiple: 

  • The solar panels enjoy the cooling effects of the water underneath them and can provide up to 10% more renewable electricity, 
  • The water underneath floating solar panels remains cooler for longer periods of time, offering more thermal stability to the livestock in it, 
  • The water also suffers less water evaporation. 

All the extra water can then be saved for additional hydro capacity or even for irrigation of larger surfaces. The livestock can also enjoy higher thermal stability throughout the day and even the year, possibly increasing in size and amount. A system that is mounted on hydro-accumulations also reduces the costs of running power lines to it, as it can use the power lines that the hydro-generation capacities use already. 

In a system like this, significant savings can also be made on installation costs, as all the bearing structures can be premade and delivered to the site. The structures are flexible, made of cheap materials, such as plastics (which can be recycled), inexpensive, and highly adjustable to any system. The water also washes the panels and the absence of trees and buildings makes the system highly efficient and reduces (partial) shading issues. 

5.) Building-integrated Photovoltaics

Another significant step in solar technology development and renewable energy utilization is building-integrated photovoltaics. In a building like this, solar panels are integrated into the building itself and can stand instead of a (part of) roof structure, a wall, or even windows. Buildings like this can be cheaper to make, as the costs of building the building and then adding solar panels to it are higher than replacing a portion of the structure with solar panels themselves. 

However, this is not a perfect solution, as having panels instead of windows or wall portions can provide an additional cooling effect during winter. This is less than ideal, especially in cooler climates. Despite more clean energy being produced, the systems are perfect for hotter climates, where the panels can provide additional shading and keep the interior cooler for longer with no additional cost. 

6.) Solar Skins

As many solar homeowners will say, solar panels can be a sore. The biggest driving force behind solar technology adoption is the ability to generate solar energy, offset energy use, sell excess electricity, and (almost) nullify your electricity bill. However, a new type of technology enables your solar panels to take any look you want – the solar skin. 

Solar skins are thin films that are applied to your solar panels. This way, your panels can merge seamlessly into your existing roof aesthetics, and be more pleasant to the eye. Although some may show concern that covering your solar panels may reduce their efficiency, it is necessary to know that the skins are made from such materials so they do not obstruct electricity generation. They let the usable wavelengths pass through them and go straight to the silicon layer of your panels. 

7.) Solar Fabric

Solar fabric is another addition tolar power-harnessing products. Instead of a solar panel, a flexible solar material is embedded into the material, enabling more energy to be harnessed and expanding the range of solar products. Although greater efficiency levels cannot be achieved with tech like this, wearable energy tech can produce another source of power to charge your wearables or a cell phone. 

It increases the usable life of your products and provides solar power access at a low cost. Although solar fabric cannot replace utilities and their production capacities, it can definitely show the potential to reduce power consumption, increase the efficiency of harnessing renewable resources and expand the possible applications of solar products. Solar fabric curtains, for example, can improve the efficiency of your home, by keeping it cool in the summer months, which at the same time provides electrical energy for your consumption. 

Solar fabric, for example, can also help reflect heat from your home if applied as an awning material. Having fold-away awning can also find its application in RV and camping. Solar fabric tents can charge your solar batteries and smartphones during the day and provide much necessary technology access in rural areas. 

8.) Photovoltaic Solar Noise Barriers 

Noise barriers are something we are all familiar with. They are installed on highways and can reduce the noise in the vicinity of settled areas and urban cores. These noise barriers help keep noise levels down and are very likely to increase the overall comfort of life and the health level of residents nearby. They are inexpensive and help protect wildlife in the area at the same time. 

However, as they are made of sturdy building materials (usually metal or plastic), noise barriers have enough bearing capacity to support the added weight of solar panels. This way, they can also produce solar power to help reduce the energy needs of local communities. This way, renewable resources can be tapped into in more ways than we could imagine. Considering the tilt of noise barriers, adding solar panels to them is the best solution for northern regions, especially as they will help with energy production during winter when the sunlight falls at low angles

9.) Solar Cell Technological Improvements

As solar power is a big thing in the energy market today, a lot of investments in its development have been made. Joint venture companies, new building materials, and other company initiatives ensure that the technology is being developed with new applications and that their patents can be merged to produce more efficient products. The power of the sun is getting more inexpensive to tap into and the trend seems to be continuing. 

Perovskite Solar Photovoltaic

Perovskite solar photovoltaic is one such example. Perovskite has been around for several decades but has never been commercialized since the technology could never be made to last longer than several months. Although highly efficient, having to replace your panels several times a year is not a model that could pay off. However, researchers at Princeton University have managed to develop Perovskite technology that could easily last for up to 30 years, which is a significant improvement even when compared to monocrystalline solar panels of today – this technology can last for up to 25 years. 

10.) Solar Storage Costs

On the other side of the solar spectrum are the solar storage costs. These solutions are necessary to prepare the grid for highly intermittent energy production and to ensure emergency power supply to homes, businesses, and other facilities, such as hospitals. However, Lithium-Ion batteries cost around $1,000 per kWh of storage space. 

Considering that an average US home uses 30 kWh of power in a day, this is not something that many households could ever afford. Businesses do not see solar storage as a viable solution and many depend on net metering, putting additional strain on the grid. However, new developments and alternative solar energy storage options make the idea more feasible, while ensuring the prices keep going down. 

Green Hydrogen Technology

One such storage solution is the green hydrogen solution. Green hydrogen provides a great way to store energy and use it later on when it is necessary. The solutions are highly efficient and can provide high power outputs, enough even to power businesses or hydrogen fuel cell cars. Green hydrogen is hydrogen formed by using water electrolysis. All the energy used in this process comes from renewable energy sources, mostly wind and solar. Considering the solar potential in the US, more green-hydrogen facilities should be up and running. 

FAQs

What is the Largest Untapped Energy Source in the World?

The world’s largest untapped energy source is the power of the seas – marine power. The energy of waves, tidal energy, ocean currents, and temperature changes could power the world. However, relatively little innovation in the field, high manufacturing and installation costs, the difficulties of streamlining the design and installation process, and the need to approach each project separately raise the costs and make both the private and public sectors more willing to invest in on-shore solutions. 

What is the Best Renewable Energy Technology?

The best renewable energy technology is solar panels, although recent decades saw an increase in innovation and a reduction in the prices of wind as a renewable energy source. These two have the lowest environmental footprint of all energy sources, are versatile, and are easy to adapt to any given situation or landscape. The same cannot be said of other renewable power sources, such as wave energy capture systems. 

What’s the Future of Solar Energy?

The future of solar energy is brighter than we may think. As an average solar system can be installed in a matter of days and produce energy for decades to come with very little work input and maintenance, this is the perfect solution for the growing energy needs of the world population. In most cases, solar energy solutions are cheap and easy to install. A high level of innovation means that the technology will only keep gaining in popularity and will become a much larger contributor to the overall global energy mix. 

Is Solar Tech Getting Better?

Yes, solar tech is getting better. Monocrystalline solar panels, perovskite panels, bifocal solar panels, or hybrid solar panels and collectors show promising results in increasing the efficiency of the technology and ensuring that very little energy is wasted. This makes solar a safer and a more sought-after investment to make, as both private and commercial sectors race to place them wherever there is enough sunshine to make them economically viable. 

Conclusion

So, the solar power future is a bright one. Possibly even brighter than the sun that helps power it. Hundreds of companies around the world work as hard as they can to help improve the conversion percentage and to ensure that every US household could one day run on 100% renewable energy. Even the best solar companies in the market today work hard to provide more for less money. With great innovations in the field come great possibilities, so stay tuned for more. 

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