We’re talking seamless solar integration on the home-front – not some far off solar farm on a dusty stretch of highway.
But how do you harness green power when the entire grid is still designed around traditional energy? Now that’s an essential question for walking into the green beyond.
It takes courage to go green. Whether you live in a mansion or a 500 Sq Ft studio, it’s a challenge of start up energy to change our time-tested ways. Yet thanks to emerging technologies, there are baby steps you may be missing in this transition that could make things easier.
So here’s a start: five solar gadgets that make it easier to get off the ground (and off the grid).
Of course you have! In 2015, renewable energy has a star at center stage – Tesla Energy.
“Enough energy to power a single family home for 1.8 billion years or supply energy to a nuclear power plant for 2,300 years (or launch the Falcon 9 rocket seventeen million times).” Tesla Motors writes.
For a company named after a man who believed in free, renewable energy for everyone, this new invention is changing the way we envision the emerging power grid of tomorrow. For starters, it’s a power solution for homes, businesses and utilities. But more importantly, it’s a power storage system that makes solar energy less fleeting than in the past.
It’s all about the Powerwall – a sleek device that is cheap and easy enough to obtain.
“Tesla Powerwall is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery designed to store energy at a residential level for load shifting, backup power and self-consumption of solar power generation.”
With a selling price of $3,500 for 10kWh and $3,000 for 7kWh to installers, Engadget.com reports that this pup is already sold out through the middle of 2016. And here is where we potentially witness history being made.
Considering the potential of both energy creation and storage at home, followed by the possible integration with equally inspired inventions like the ones below, a new picture of the energy grid begins to emerge. (At least, it does in our eyes.)
Talk “fully transparent solar concentrator” to me.
Yes, you’re looking at a solar cell that is totally clear! (Pause and victory dance.) Thanks to Michigan State University researchers who developed the transparent solar cell above, a million and a half uses come to mind.
Extreme Tech reported on it’s possible applications – anything from cellphone screens that maintain chic aesthetic requirements demanded by consumers to uses in highrise buildings. Essentially, if it uses glass in it’s design, one could image it could someday utilize this technology or a future variant of it.
Writes Sebastian Anthony at Extreme Tech: “Ubiquitous Energy, an MIT startup we first reported on in 2013, is now getting closer to bringing its transparent solar panels to market… The researchers — and Ubiquitous Energy — are confident that the technology can be scaled all the way from large industrial and commercial applications, down to consumer devices, while remaining affordable.”
It works by utilizing a transparent luminescent solar concentrator (TLSC) which consists of organic salts that absorb non-visible wavelengths of ultraviolet and infrared light. They then “luminesce”, forming non-visible infrared light that is shuttled to traditional thin strips of photovoltaic cells that convert the light it into energy.
Now imagine if these totally unobtrusive solar cells found their way into the new grid being built by Tesla and the inventors of Solar roadways? A picture begins to form, even if it’s in our wildest hopes and dreams.
Do you have a window? Wow, us too! Thankfully that’s all it takes to harness the power of Blight (Solar Panel blinds). Back in 2009, GreenUpgrader.com mentioned Blight’s entry into the Greener Gadgets Design Competition.
Created by Vincent Gerkens, the Blind Light (hence the name of Blight) captures light with flexible solar cells at day to create light with electroluminescent foil at night. Storing energy in the blind’s upper housing, they are Venetian style for tilting at different angles to maximize exposure to the sun.
Sure it only creates light, but that’s just a beginning. With ideas come improvements. Augmentations ensue and you know the drill. Picture an entire highrise condo utilizing a similar technology like one big battery. Nifty, but still too pricey. Turns out electroluminescent foil doesn’t run quite as cheap of that roll of tinfoil in your kitchen drawer. But give it time, and this could bud into something bigger.
Kind of a snoozer here – old news and all. But that’s actually good when you think about it. Certain solar technologies are becoming everyday objects, which is certainly the path to full adoption for any technology.
This leads to a wonderful thought. Imagine a day when all solar energy is old news and people are saying, “Can you believe they only invented this stuff 100 years ago? They used to burn this stuff called oil!”
You need a roof, right? Not only do solar shingles keep a lower profile than traditional standing solar panels, but they are becoming increasingly affordable. As Scientific American pointed out in 2013, advances in photovoltaic technology have led to ever cheaper solar shingles that can now compete with traditional bolt-on solar panels.
It’s no secret that many gripes about going green are often related to the aesthetic concerns. Solar shingles can keep that low profile, and seamlessly integrate with your traditional cement shingle roof.
Happily, the list of viable solar power solutions is far longer than five in 2015. And when the list of renewable energy solutions gets longer, that’s good news for everyone.
We all know that a new energy paradigm won’t arise from a single technology or breakthrough. So why not hold out hope that the technologies necessary to lay a strong foundation will find each other, and someday integrate into one pretty picture of sustainability.