Regular readers will know that The Ferret is a big fan of solar power. No other technology has the potential to replace our energy needs so efficiently and conveniently as solar. Sure, wind and sea turbines offer superb output at scale, but unless you have a few million in spare change, it’s not likely that you’ll be able to enjoy your own wind or sea power anytime soon. It’s only solar, with it’s local, household level (or even vehicle level) options which could really make a difference to the distribution and uptake of renewable energy on a mass scale.
And the technology is steadily improving year on year. Unlike other renewable tech, solar continues to provide massively improved results as efficiency ramps up and costs sink. Perskovite solar panels and products like Maxeon Air panels point the way to an increasingly flexible solar landscape, which is going to be good news for all of us. For now, the idea of solar panels with an efficiency over 30% at a reasonable price is a bit of a pipe dream. But if you’ve got the money, and you need to power a satellite for a long time, then the boffins have got you covered. They’ve managed to creep up to just under 50% efficiency with a sophisticated and costly panel construction.
It’s just a matter of time before we see this kind of efficiency in consumer priced products. Of course it’s not just efficiency and cost that will propel us towards a new solar age. Other innovations, such as fabric solar and building integrated solar (in windows and even paint) could blow the market apart once the technology matures and real world applications are proved in the field. The future’s bright, so grab your shades.