Updated: Feb 15
Our last article covered three of the most exciting innovations in solar panel technology in 2021. The solar industry is a dynamic one and there's never been a shortage of new technologies that push existing boundaries. This article will look at a few even more exciting innovations to expect in 2022 and beyond.
The Year of the Rise of the 'Solar Car'
2022 will be the year that the first 'solar-powered' cars go into mass production in the hope of finally hitting the road. Considering both the ecological and technological limitations, those solar cars will be offered as a variation of the electric vehicle. This means that solar cells installed on the body of the cars will provide only a slight charge while the car will still largely depend on incorporated lithium-ion batteries for majority of its power. Some EV manufacturers, including Audi, say they will now offer their customers the option of incorporating solar panels.
Technically, 'solar cars', that is, cars that will be fully or at least, mostly powered by solar panels are still a dream because per the small efficiency rating of panels made from even the most sophisticated solar panel technologies only a fraction of the amount of solar panels that will power a mechanical engine can be installed on a typical car.
Perovskite Solar Cells Enter the Market
The recently developed perovskite solar cells, with a staggering world-record-breaking 29.52% are expected to enter the market this year. Silicon is the main element used in the manufacture of solar panels. In the new technology, silicon is replaced with perovskites. Perovskites are hybrid compounds that have been successfully trialled in several applications, including LED lights, lasers, and photodetectors. They have now found a new application in the making of solar panels.
Bio Solar Cells Moves Forward
Bio solar cells, otherwise called 'artificial leaves' will use the well-known processes of photosynthesis to produce electricity. Though we cannot expect the existing bio solar cells to scale into the market anytime soon, the on-going research and development efforts may make a breakthrough soon.
The End of PERC Cells?
Since being invented by a Canadian scientist, Martin Green, PERC (Passivated emitter rear contact) solar panel technology became widely adopted by the solar industry. A new technology, TOPCon (tunnel oxide passivated contact) is now being touted expected to supersede the PERC. The China Photovoltaic Industry Association states that it expect this next-gen technology to take the giant cut of the market share before 2024.
Thin Film Solar Cells to Peak
Of the three traditional types of solar cell technology, thin film solar cells are the cheapest because the mass-production processes are the cheapest and the simplest. Recently, thin films are peaking in popularity as they provide the potential a low-cost option. It is expected that the thin-film solar market will grow up to $4.57B by 2025.
Solar Windows Into the Future?
Solar windows are 'windows' made up of panels that serve the dual purpose of producing electricity while serving the purposes for which windows are known. Alongside solar roofs, solar glass windows are a type of Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV). Many manufacturers are entering the solar window market even as the product gains acceptance. The evolving technology is expected to convert buildings, high-rise buildings and skyscrapers into power generators.
In August last year, the Michigan State University and solar windows went viral when MSU announced that it had made-over its Biomedical and Physical Sciences Building with fully transparent solar windows.
Solar Desalination Plants to Take Over
Desalination is the removal of salts and mineral components from seawater. Through desalination, fresh water is generated from water bodies like brackish water, seawater and contaminated water. (The Greeks and Persians used solar stills to purify contaminated water.) Solar technologies are finding wide applications and have reached the water purification industry.
In February 2020, researchers at MIT and in China developed a completely passive portable solar-powered desalination plant. They say it could provide more than 1.5 gallons of fresh drinking water per hour for every square meter of solar collecting area. When fully developed, such systems could provide off-grid arid coastal areas as well as in areas where water contamination is a perennial problem, with an efficient, low-cost water treatment device.
Cost of Solar Energy To Drop Off A Little More
Researchers have predicted that solar energy costs will drop another 25% by 2022, that is some 4.4% steady decrease each year. From 2011, costs of solar energy has dropped by 85% and even though the report adds that the drop may be motivated by new movers into the industry, India particularly, using poor-quality components, and also considering the astronomical demand that has made the market rather creative, it is safe to allow ourselves to be taken in by the stat. Though the volatile nature of the naira will most likely cancel out any of such drop off, it is safe to assume that if it comes as predicted, it is a good sign that the future is bright for the solar industry.
Africa is often found at the farthest end of the supply chain so we can expect these new trends to reach us after they have become staples in the producing countries. In the mean time, SolarKobo helps its clients in Lagos and around Nigeria make the best choice of solar panels, batteries and inverter that meets their energy needs and fits their budgets.