Saturday, April 27, 2013

6 Emerging Solar Technologies

As I've mentioned before, there is this major energy and renewables revolution taking place right now, and it is moving so fast.  I've read literally hundreds of articles on solar energy innovations poised to lower the cost and increase the output of collectors, all the way back from nanotechnology solar paints - an innovation that seems to have started at the University of Toronto maybe 8, 9 years ago.  Sadly, I've not really been cataloguing these but I'm going to make a start on this now.  Here are just this morning's findings:
The Mother Nature News website is really interesting:

And a Sixth one is here; Rectennas, or Nantennas - Definitely appears to be one of the more important leaps forward:

I've been working on other peoples projects again recently and one of them involves solar thermal technology, mainly because solar thermal can collect up to 80% of the solar energy that strikes it, as opposed to solar PV, which, though cheaper, still takes a lot of area at 15 to 21% efficiencies.
But for all those installing solar thermal on their roofs on projects happening right now, I recommend you also install a conduit or wiring for future PV panels to replace the thermal panels.  Of course, I also recommend the roof structure be given some thought - don't just install the weakest cheapest roof to carry the snow and rain loads - make your roofs face the sun, and make them strong enough to carry solar panels, including hybrid panels, and energy storage panels!


  1. And keep in mind that, in Toronto, the sun is low in the winter and the sky is often cloudy. So efficiency will often be nil when you need it most...

  2. Maybe part of the stymie on new solar panel tech is that on top of each panel must be some form of protective clearcoat. New surface structures and components might be super efficient on their own, but does the addition of glass over top of them simply reflect away a good portion of that energy?
    Many houses have already upgraded to high efficiency furnaces and hot water systems, making the chimney an unused relic. However the old chimney is a chase that typically runs from exterior of the attic all the way to the basement. As a chase it can provide us with a route to each floor, and said chimney is often on the exterior of the home, meaning things outside, for instance at grade level, can also access this chase. We can fasten wiring and plumbing etc to the interior wall of the chimney -from outside the chimney -via a simple technique. So if you have an unused chimney maybe think twice about removing it, you could always lower it to inside the attic, capped but so it is still accessible.

  3. Replies
    1. The transmissivity (great word) of glass to solar radiation is pretty high. The visible spectrum goes pretty much completely through it, and I think the infrared does as well, so I suspect the glass protective sheet over the solar elements is not a big issue. In addition, it blocks the UV, which is generally more damaging anyway.

  4. This is great information, thanks’ for share!