A team of researchers at Michigan State University has developed a new type of solar concentrator that when placed over a window creates solar energy while allowing people to actually see through the window.
It is called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator and can be used on buildings, cell phones and any other device that has a clear surface.
And, according to Richard Lunt of MSUs College of Engineering, the key word is transparent.
Research in the production of energy from solar cells placed around luminescent plastic-like materials is not new. These past efforts, however, have yielded poor results the energy production was inefficient and the materials were highly colored.
No one wants to sit behind colored glass, said Lunt, an assistant professor of chemical engineering and materials science. It makes for a very colorful environment, like working in a disco. We take an approach where we actually make the luminescent active layer itself transparent. Read more
Did you know how much electricity the world consumes every year? According to the statistical data from the Index Mundi website, the global electricity consumption reached 17,780 billion kWh in 2011 and 19,090 billion kWh in 2012. With the constantly growing population and the expansion of technological infrastructure, this number increases each year while the energy resources of our planet are limited and will be exhausted in the near future.
At the same time, the Earth receives the average of 164 Watts of solar energy per square meter within a 24 hour day, making it 84 Terawatts of power (or 84 billion kWh) per day worldwide. So, the challenge is to collect the necessary amount of solar energy by the means of solar panels. You may think that vast territories would need to be covered with solar panels to supply the entire world with electricity. However, as incredible as it may sound, a tiny piece of land would be quite enough to cover the global demand for electricity.
According to a diploma thesis by Nadine May of the Technical University of Braunschweig titled Eco-balance of a Solar Electricity Transmission from North Africa to Europe, the world could be entirely powered by solar energy by placing solar panels in a small area in North Africa. Read more