Advancing Solar Power: Innovations in Concentrated Solar Power Technology

Solar Energy Innovations: Beyond Photovoltaics and Concentrated Solar Power

The world is battling the way out of conventional sources of energy, and solar power seems most propitious with its easy availability. Solar systems are increasingly being set up in many parts of the country, with people realising its importance. 

The solar power systems commonly prevalent now use photovoltaic and concentrated solar power. But we need to move forward with newer developments that can produce more efficiency with lesser cost than these two types. This can make solar power accessible to a larger section of the country.

Need for innovation beyond concentrated solar power and PV in the solar energy sector

With a promising future in sight for solar energy, innovation can boost the sector’s growth further. The following lets us understand the need for innovation in this sector:

Advancement in technology

The majority of the solar panels used in India are made up of crystalline silicon. Though this has been helping with significant generation of solar power, the efficiency is limited to 22%. There needs to be an advancement in technology that can accelerate the efficiency rate for optimizing the power generation capacity of the panels.

The development of panels coated with perovskite crystals, for example, has shown an efficiency of 27%, which is an optimistic outcome. With efficiency improvements, we can expect more investments in solar power plants. This is a comforting factor for the environment plagued by the ill effects of conventional sources of energy.

Cost savings

Higher efficiency of solar power plants can bring about a significant reduction in costs. In many cases, the initial investment prevents many from shifting to solar systems for homes. Adopting innovative technologies can encourage more people to adopt solar energy. 

The advantages of solar energy can be fully enjoyed by a country when the majority of the population adopts it. To achieve this, the cost of installation, maintenance, material, etc., should not be a barrier. Many new developments, like solar paints, have been introduced to make solar energy more affordable.

Improvement in storage

The solar power generated should have sufficient battery storage that can be used in times of need. Without storage, the plant cannot provide backup during times of power outages. But, this requires investment in batteries, which is expensive. 

Innovations that can reduce the cost of batteries and offer improved storage capabilities, make them affordable to all, and can lead to real energy independence. 

The future of solar energy

A dire need to make solar energy our future gives rise to the need for innovations such as these:

Solar paints

What if the exterior of your building could generate enough power to run it? Solar paints are meant to do that. Just like normal paints, they can be used to coat any exterior surface to absorb the sun’s rays and generate electricity.

Solar paints are still not commercially available, but it is supposed to be an outstanding innovation that can be made more affordable. It would be highly useful in places where solar panels are difficult to install.

In this technology, solar cells are mixed with paint liquid and applied to the exteriors of homes, industries, vehicles, etc., to capture sunlight. The working is similar to that of PV cells, but it is thin-film solar panels, which are in liquid form. When developed on a large scale, solar paints would be a cost-effective option.

Thin film solar

This is considered the future of solar energy. These panels are extremely thin and flexible. One biggest advantage of these is that they can be easily rolled and carried to places where conventional solar panels with PV cells cannot be taken.

They are budget-friendly and generate less waste during manufacture. It is one of the best innovations in the solar energy sector. Though it is said to be slightly less efficient than the other solar panels, they have a higher theoretical efficiency. This means, with more improvements, they can easily replace traditional solar panels.

Also, the payback period for thin solar film is relatively lesser than that of traditional solar film. With all these advantages, the industry has reason to rely on thin film solars in the future.

Floating solar cells

Floating solar panels are an incredible innovation with huge advantages. They are a group of solar panels floating on top of any water body, such as lakes, ponds, and reservoirs. These are considered an eco-friendly way of power generation.

Since they are to float on water at all times, they are made up of materials that are rust-free, have buoyancy, are humidity-resistant, etc. Traditional solar panels require a lot of space on land or on roofs. Floating solar panels save significant land space, reduce a great amount of evaporation from water bodies, prevent algae blooms, and produce clean energy.

India has many floating solar power plants already with a capacity of up to 100MW. The numbers are said to improve in the future, given the benefits. This can make way for manufacturers to think beyond concentrated solar power panels in the future.

Perovskite solar cells

Another innovation in the solar sector is the introduction of perovskite solar cells, which are supposed to have outstanding capabilities. Steps are being taken to improve its stability and efficiency to increase its use.

It has very good light absorption ability across all visible wavelengths, which makes it possible to generate more power. Perovskite cells are easy to manufacture and are relatively economical. They are lightweight, semitransparent, and highly flexible, which makes them suitable for easy installation.

Wasted light panels

This is an interesting development in the field of solar energy generation. Sunlight consists of light with different wavelengths. The traditional solar panels absorb an average of 40% of light from the sun, which is also called visible light. The rest of the light is wasted, which leaves room for the development of solar plants with the ability to capture the wasted light.

Innovation in the solar sector has the ability to capture the major part of non-visible light from the sun. This has tremendous potential to change the future of the solar sector for good.

Wrapping up

With the government’s continued efforts to promote the growth of the renewable energy sector, innovations are most welcome. Solar power investment will be the most beneficial for a cleaner future. Investors also have more options than the PV and concentrated solar power panels to choose from. More and more advancements pave the way for a sustainable environment through efficiency improvements.

Asked Questions

More advanced technologies are being introduced to make the functioning of solar plants more efficient. This gives rise to the need for innovation.

More people are moving towards cleaner sources of energy, and hence solar energy has a promising future.

Perovskite cells, wasted light cells, etc., are some of the innovations that can make solar power plants more efficient.

Yes, solar investment can bring in cost savings as it reduces the dependence on traditional sources of power.

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