Tesla’s Powerwall is rewriting the renewable energy cycle and stealing the spotlight but it’s really only one in a growing series of technological advancements that have put solar at the forefront of the ongoing energy crisis. By investing heavily in research and the development of its Gigafactory in Nevada, Tesla is strategising the storage and delivery of energy from home to everywhere and back. And it’s scaling renewable energy for affordability (and making it cool) in the process.
Elsewhere, researchers and engineers are advancing in leaps and bounds in making photovoltaic cells (solar panels) more efficient in themselves as well as using data to optimise their placement in relation to that ‘big fusion power station in the sky’.
Swedish company Ripasso Energy announced this week a new solar energy dish which it claims is the most efficient in the world – more than doubling the amount of grid-ready energy that can be converted from the sun on current panels.
Ripasso’s panels far outstrip the performance of solar panels currently in use today which typically only convert 15% of the sun’s energy to electricity suitable for the grid. The newly announced system converts 34% of the Sun’s energy to grid-ready electricity. Each dish capable of producing 85 megawatt hours of electricity, enough to power 24 homes year round.
Meanwhile the Netherlands Government is reporting success beyond expectations with the SolaRoad solar-cell-surfaced bicycle path test section of 70 metres in Amsterdam. Installed in November 2014 the path generates 3,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh), enough electricity to power a single occupancy house for a year. The electricity will be used ultimately to power the traffic lights and signage on the Netherland’s vast network of dedicated bicycle paths.
‘The Future of Solar Energy’ – an Interdisciplinary Study by MIT released this year was prepared by an army of energy experts. Their findings are that the technology currently available is capable of delivering terawatt-scale power by 2050. Solar energy’s future is well and truly turned on.