Top Solar Powered Technology

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This guest post was contributed by Izabela Wisniewska.

You may remember the calculators that used to run on solar power way back in the 70s. Whilst we are now making great strides in using solar to fuel our homes, there is also a wider range of uses for this technology that we are still developing.

Solar Lights

It’s estimated that there are still over a billion people in the world who don’t have access to electricity and therefore lights. One of the problems with this is that many households in developing countries are using less carbon-friendly kerosene lamps on a grand scale — changing to portable solar lights can change all that and reduce the estimated 200 million tonnes of greenhouse gases being produced each year.

Battery Chargers

With all the laptops and smartphones we have nowadays, most people have got into the ritual of recharging their devices on a daily basis. But what happens if you’re out in the wilds or at a festival and can’t get to a plug socket? Well, then you can use one of the many solar charges that use the power of the sun to put some life back into your phone. Portable and powerful enough to get you back online, solar battery charges may well become an everyday technology in the near future.

Solar Powered Toys

For those who want a bit of fun, there are plenty of corporate toys including a solar racing car and a Pope figure that waves to you when you when it gets a little sun. Toys and gadgets are ideal for solar technology because they normally only need a small amount of power.

Solar Cars

The full technology may be a little way off yet, but Ford announced at the beginning of this year that they were working on a hybrid car that was, in part, powered by the sun. Ford C-Max Solar Energi Concept uses a panel on the roof of the car that tracks the sun and magnifies the rays to produce electricity.

At the moment, a 4 hour charge gives it just enough power to travel 20 odd miles on pure electricity but it’s hoped that further advances could see solar able to power 75% of trips made by the average user.

Solar Planes

In 2015 the Solar Impulse is going to fly around the world. The aircraft is the brainchild of Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg and is totally powered by the sun, and not a drop of fuel used. With panels fitted to its long, slim wings, the Impulse looks more like a huge glider than a regular aircraft but it has already flown across America.

Solar Nanotechnology

The problem with large scale solar technology at the moment is the size and the cost of the arrays. The answer may well be in nanotechnology which helps to keep the manufacturing costs down and allows us to develop less bulky panels that can be rolled up and carried around. Nanotechnology involves the ability to deal with the world on the smallest level and manipulate it. The process is a complex business but it could see new solar panels that can be produced at a fraction of the cost and have a wider range of uses.

Solar Leaves

Developers at MIT have made what they call the first solar leaf, an ultra-thin PV cell made from silicon that can be dropped in water and used to produce electricity. Whilst they don’t have the power that their larger counterparts enjoy, they could have an impact for developing countries as they are cheap to make.

The Future of Solar Technology

There’s no doubt that we are still just at the beginning of our exploration and development in solar power. It may be that one day all our gadgets and machines, our homes, hospitals and workplaces, will be powered by the sun. To find out more about how this technology is advancing, visit our solar panel page.