Solar panels are experiencing unprecedented popularity worldwide. The message of transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy has finally hit home, and nations worldwide are moving mountains to achieve an emission-free future.
Even with the environmental aspects put aside, the sheer cost benefits of solar panels have inspired millions of people to install rooftop PV systems on their homes and businesses to access the most affordable form of electricity on the planet.
Now, people are exploring new ways to exploit solar power. For example, in Google Trends, the search term ‘solar panels for caravan’ and ‘solar panels for camping’ have increased 350 per cent while searches for ‘batteries for solar panels have increased 130 per cent and ‘flexible solar panels’ have increased 120 per cent.
People have a thirst for new knowledge on solar technologies and renewable energy in a broader sense. Google searches for ‘renewable energy stocks asx’ have increased by a staggering 1200 per cent in terms of the stock market. The market wants to know what is happening next for personal and financial gain.
Solar panels are unlikely to surrender their popularity anytime soon, but new technologies will hit the market and change the way we extract power from the sun. One of the leading technologies expected to dominate the domestic and commercial markets soon is solar fabric. This technology doesn’t rely on rigid panels and will open new doors for the renewable energy sector.
What is solar fabric?
Solar fabric is a new way to harness the sun’s energy. It can be bent or glued to any surface, is ten times lighter than framed panels and contains no toxic materials. These also last longer: up to 20 years, and this new technology is emerging as a viable alternative to traditional silicon-based photovoltaic (PV) panels.
The big selling point for traditional cells and panels has been the high-efficiency rate, with modern technologies achieving conversion rates of well over 20 per cent. However, this could be all set to change, with the University of Queensland recently developing a flexible solar skin with a 16.6 per cent efficiency rate, up from the previous record of 13.4 per cent.
The scope of application is enormous. Those shade sails that you see in shopping centre car parks or covering the local pool could all be converting the sun’s rays into electricity. Umbrellas and awnings at local businesses, restaurants and cafes could also become electricity-producing devices. The scope gets more extensive, as this technology can be used for marine purposes, in schools, hospitals, stadiums, agricultural purposes and a wide range of buildings that cannot sustain large, heavy solar panels.
Beyond commercial use, there is also scope for humanitarian benefits. For example, the affordable solar fabric can be used to put together refugee camps, solar tents can be erected in disaster zones worldwide, and cheap, accessible power can be deployed rapidly to meet the needs of the most vulnerable.
This technology is not science fiction that might become a reality in the distant future; it is already being rolled out today. In France, German company Heliatek installed the largest building-integrated organic photovoltaic system on the roof of a school in La Rochelle, France, in 2019. In the United Kingdom, Solivus is working on making solar fabric so thin; it is only one atom thick. In addition, French company Armor is looking at ways to make solar material 100 per cent recyclable.
The emergence of wearable solar technology
Solar fabric will not be limited to large-scale use, though. Wearable solar technology is already a real thing after Nottingham Trent University in the United Kingdom engineered a way to embed miniaturised solar cells into yarn. These solar cells are almost microscope in size and are currently being used to charge smartphones and other devices.
This innovation makes solar energy more accessible and affordable for everyone by integrating panels into wearable tech devices like watches, glasses, bracelets and even shoes without sacrificing any style.
Make the transition to solar technologies with Energy Matters
At Energy Matters, you can gain access to the latest and best solar technologies at the most affordable prices. With our simple system, you can request three independent quotes from local installers and discover the best option for your needs and your budget.
With our free solar quotes, we will help you determine how much your system will cost and what return on investment (ROI) you can expect. We offer a wide range of products from panels, inverters, batteries and more.
This is a free service that takes less than 10 minutes to complete online. All you need is some basic information about where you live and what type of property you have. Get started today.