Top 6 Innovations in Solar Power

By: Derek Markham, Planet Green  | 
solar cell, solar panel
How much do you know about solar power?
Jeremy Levine Design

Our energy systems are in need of a serious tuneup, for a number of reasons. Using predominantly petroleum (and other fossil fuel) products for energy production has a couple of major drawbacks, including limited supplies, the release of greenhouse gases and other pollutants during use, and for most countries, the dependence on foreign oil and coal supplies (and the inevitable price increases that go along with that).

But the solar power industry has been pushing out innovations right and left, some of which have the potential to make a serious (and positive) impact on our energy systems.


Keep reading to learn about 6 of the top solar power innovations.

1: Thin Film Solar

Harvesting solar energy doesn’t have to mean using huge solar panels anymore, thanks to innovations in solar thin film technology. These solar films can be ‘printed’ in rolls, which greatly reduces both the cost and the installation, as well as opening up more opportunities for placement of these solar power producers (such as being integrated into the roofing materials of buildings).


2: Solar Windows

Windows which have been treated with a new electricity generating coating remain see-through, yet have the ability to convert sunshine to energy. The coating of these solar windows produces the world’s smallest functional solar cells, (measure less than ¼ the size of a grain of rice!) and can be applied at room temperature, with no need for specialized production facilities.


3: Solar Balloons

solar balloons, solar cell, solar power
Have you ever seen a solar balloon?
Cool Earth Solar

This solar balloon isn’t a hot air balloon powered by the sun — it’s a way to use existing technology to harvest solar power on arrays of silvery balloons. Big plastic balloons concentrate and direct solar energy onto solar cells using readily available (and relatively low-cost) components.


4: Hairy Solar Panels

No, this solar power innovation isn’t in need of a good shave. It’s actually a product of nanotechnology, using light-absorbing nanowires on carbon-nanotube fabric. These nanowires can absorb more energy from the sun than silicon can, which may allow for more efficient energy harvesting (as well as giving us a fun new term, "hairy solar."


5: Microinverters

One of the pieces of the residential solar power puzzle is the inverter – the device which takes the DC power produced by solar panels and transforms it into AC power (which is what our homes are wired to use). The price of an inverter to handle the power you could produce on your rooftop used to be quite high (as well as being inefficient), but with the advent of microinverters, it’s possible to have just one panel (and one inverter) to start your solar power generating station.


6: Infrared Spectrum Solar Panels

The solar energy harvested by current solar panels comes entirely from the visible spectrum, which leaves quite a bit of the light spectrum untapped. But research into adding new materials (vanadium and titanium) to solar semiconductors could mean that in the future, our solar panels will also be able to capture some of the infrared spectrum and turn it into electricity.


Frequently Asked Questions

How do solar power innovations impact the environment, compared to traditional energy sources?
Solar power innovations significantly reduce environmental impact in comparison to traditional fossil fuels. They offer a clean, renewable source of energy, minimizing greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution and water use. By harnessing the sun's energy, these innovations reduce our reliance on finite resources, thereby contributing to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly energy landscape.
What is the future outlook for solar power technology advancements?
The future outlook for solar power technology is highly promising, with ongoing research and development focusing on increasing efficiency, reducing costs and exploring new applications. Innovations such as solar windows and infrared spectrum solar panels highlight the potential for integrating solar energy into everyday life more seamlessly. Continued advancements are expected to make solar power even more accessible, efficient and integral to meeting global energy needs sustainably.

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