3 Amazing Solar Power Advancements in 2016
As with all years, 2016 has had it’s ups and downs, and a few unexpected turns of events. One thing that has always remained constant throughout the years and throughout 2016, has been the technological and scientific advancements. 2016 has been a good year for both science, technology, and consumer goods.
Solar power has greatly pushed forward the notion of an environmental, and affordably powered-home for decades. A typical solar panel can produce about 200-300 watts, and the average solar panel system can produce about 850 kWh to 3400 kWh, but these solar systems improve every year.
The technology is only getting better and better. So what advancements were made in 2016?
Solar power is great, but one big disadvantage is its reliance on the sun’s presence to be effective. No sun, no electricity, and that means drawing from the grid, or another source. However, this is remedied by what can sound like a fairly simplistic idea but is perhaps somewhat more difficult to implement: a battery.
Why is making a battery so difficult to implement? Well, as you might imagine, it’s fairly expensive to make a battery big enough to store enough electricity to power your home overnight or through a bad storm. This gets worse especially, the larger your home, and the more power it requires.
Starting in 2015, Tesla Motors announced and released their Powerwall 1, a device designed for storing solar energy, with an output of about 2 kWh. In October 2016, Tesla released the Powerall 2, an upgraded version that can output about 5 kWh. A commercial version called the Powerpack, capable of much greater storage and output, was released in 2016 as well.
Solar Skin and SolarCity
A common misgiving about solar panels has been the aesthetic. While it might seem petty to complain about how solar panels affect the aesthetic of your home, it can actually have an affect on the total value of your home. While the functionality of the solar panel more than outweighs the aesthetic, even in home value, it can be beneficial to have both the utility and a non-disruptive aesthetic wherever possible.
Solar Skin is a product sold by Sistine Solar, resolves the aforementioned issue. Each panel is design to match the roof of your home, making it almost seamless, while still preserving the functionality. This is not to be confused with HelioVolt’s Solar Skin, a product released in 2008, which makes solar cells that could be stuck onto common construction materials, at the cost of their overall efficiency.
In 2016, SolarCity, a subsidiary of Tesla Motors, released a new brand of solar panels called Solar Roof. These panels are designed to replace the tiles of your roof, and like Solar Skin, are designed to look like normal roof tiles. According to their website, they are designed to be affordable, efficient, and aesthetically pleasing, with designs matching even some of the more complex and intricate roof tile designs.
Solar Roadways is a project that, as the name suggests, brings solar energy to the roads. According to their website, Solar Roadways are not only as functional as concrete or asphalt and can absorb electricity, but are more durable, displays lines and signals via LEDs, can melt snow during the winter, and so much more. Sidewalks along the iconic Route 66 highway have been chosen as the first test-beds for this technology.
Here’s hoping for another exciting year in solar technology!