Zeitgeist solar isn’t new materials like the mythical Graphene. It’s building on what we already have.
A majority of solar energy production in the US, for example, is still captured through crystalline silicon panels. These types of panels first started grabbing sunlight in the 1950s.
Most new tech in solar seems to be complimentary or facilitating what is already in place. Not earth shattering, future defining technologies. The main goal seems to be make Silicon PV panels cheaper and more efficient.
Some Technology & Innovation
Floating Solar Farms
An increasing lack of land means there has been a trend towards floating your solar farm on water. A trend especial picking up pace in the Far East where land is a premium. As an example, a total of 100MW of floating solar was installed in 2017 and 200MW will be installed in Indonesia alone in 2019.
Rise of the Robots
It’s not quite taken off massively (yet) but autonomous bots to clean ‘Soiling’ on panels is picking up. Soiling is the build up of sand or dirt on panels which effects efficiency. Clean panels are productive panels. A robot is much cheaper in the long run. Manual cleaning costs around $0.25 per panel. That can quickly add up. At the moment there is a financial balance between cleanliness and efficiency.
Integrating solar energy capture directly into new building and construction. Think solar roofs like Tesla or perhaps fully transparent solar panel windows. These windows can dim with sunlight, cooling your building in the heat of the sun and capturing the energy at the same time. Cool in two ways.
Other notable technologies in solar
Drones. We think they maybe everywhere. This is pretty cool though. Drones with infrared/heat cameras are used to spot anomalies in panels. Spotting potential problems and inefficiencies.
Smart inverters. Improving the efficiency and performance of solar PV right at the source.
Two faced Solar PV panels. Not the type that say one thing and do another. The type of panel that captures direct sunlight on one side and any reflected light on the reverse side. If you couple this with some solar tracking you up your efficiency significantly.