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Solar panels are packaged and connected assembly of photovoltaic cells, which can be used to generate as well as supply electricity in commercial and residential areas. Solar panels have been used by human beings for several years. For instance, the antique cultures used energy from the sun to keep warm, as well as start fires with it (Perlin, 2007). Solar panels also have a history dating to 1839, when a French physicist Edmond Becquerel initially displayed photovoltaic activity. This was based on Edmond’s findings that electrical current in particular materials could be increased once it was exposed to light. Later in 1905, Albert Einstein was able to clearly explain the photoelectric effect, which forms the basis of photovoltaics.
Solar panels also have a historical perspective of the availability of the solar cells, which have been in practical use since the 1950s. This was effective when AT &T Labs were initially developed with a six percent efficiency of silicon solar cells. The solar panel cells efficiency increased by fourteen percent. A long-term practical application of the solar panel was in the satellite systems. This was when Vanguard 1 was instigated into space as the premier orbiting vehicle that used the power of solar energy to function. The satellite also got its power from the photovoltaic silicon cells, which has led to the worldwide photovoltaic cells space program ever since.
Solar panels were also used in 1978 by NASA’s Research Center, which had a 3.5 kilowatt photovoltaic system. The system was established on the Papago Indian Reservation, which is located in Southern Arizona. The system was used to pump water as well as electricity in residential homes until the 1980s when grid power was able to function in the village. The historical trend of solar panels was also witnessed in Japan, which was able to install a 242-watt photovoltaic array on a lighthouse in 1963. This was the world’s most huge array of the time. It was followed by the designing of a less expensive solar cell, which saw its application on railroads, lighthouses, off-shore oil rigs, buoys as well as remote homes. This has made several countries consider solar energy as the best leaving the other alternatives. There are many areas and aspects where the solar panels were first tried and functioned in the previous years. This has laid a good foundation for the improvement of the modern complex and more advanced solar panels.
Future Direction and Roadmap of Technology
After the initial sensible photovoltaic cell was invented, the prospect of solar panels is anticipated to transform the contemporary challenge of global warming. Global warming has diverse effects to the lives of people, thus dealing with the issue is expected to improve the life of several people. Several research groups as well as individuals are inventing technologies that will make solar energy affordable and make the photovoltaics change forever. For instance, the invention of concentrated photovoltaics that amplifies the sunlight, so as to generate extra power, is a future invention in the solar panels sector (Cuthbert, 2011). The concentrated photovoltaics use optics like lenses to impose much sunlight onto a small area. This generates more energy, which will save on the cost of the energy required and produced. When sunlight is improved by ten percent scale, its output energy should correspond to the same scale. The resolute photovoltaic panels should have a cooling machine, which will guarantee the regulation of temperature for balanced power efficiency.
Yet another future roadmap of solar panels is harnessing the infrared light. The researchers have initiated solar panels that function using carbon materials only. The solar pane converts infrared light into electricity that will be used worldwide. The innovative expertise will ensure the harnessing of sunlight due to the dual diverse forms of carbon as well as carbon nanotubes. This will decrease the cost of production by using less exclusive machinery. Hybrid solar panels are also among the future roadmaps of solar energy. The hybrid solar panel can perform several activities at the same time like providing hot water for the bathrooms as well as generating electricity for the residential homes. For instance, Naked Energy Company is still in the process of providing and improving the hybrid solar panels for effective use by the consumers. The photovoltaic cell produces electricity that is usually incorporated with hot water solar thermal tube that in turn generates heat. The hybrid panels are equipped with original thermosyphon equipment that collects the discarded heat from the solar panel and uses it to heat up the water.
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Solar panels that function on indoor light have also been invented. This is to capture and utilize all the source of light that exists indoors. The indoor energy is harnessed using an advanced solar system, which converts it into utilizable power. Transparent solar panels have also been invented to be used in the future. In most cases, solar panels are generally dark, which discourages some people from using them. The transparent solar panel has lucid green stripes that can be fixed on the window. This enables the production of sufficient power to charge an iPhone even with adequate sunlight. Additionally, the sunlight penetrates the home interiors and is used for other purposes. More research is still underway on the transparent solar panel, so as to increase the efficiency percentage from twenty percent.
Current Proof of Concepts for Alternative Application of the Technology
There are several proofs for an alternative application of the solar panel technology. One of the alternatives of solar panels technology is the invention of solar panels made with ion cannon, which is meant to challenge the use of fossil fuels. The photovoltaic cells are produced using a hydrogen ion particle gadget that accelerates the reaction process. The process uses three millimeters silicon object set at the edge of the strut helm. This enables it to increase the effort on the edges. The hydrogen ions are later amassed at a range of twenty micrometersfrom the exterior of the silicon edge with the automatic arm moving the silicon edges to a heater that enables the extension of the ions into hydrogen gas. This reduces the wastage and the cost of solar cells, which becomes a major step in saving the cost of fossil fuels.
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Solar thermal is also another alternative for solar panels, which ensures the solar energy is harnessed for thermal energy. Solar thermal technology uses low-temperature collectors’ flat plates to heat swimming pools. The solar thermal energy is usually more efficient than the photovoltaics, which is responsible for converting solar energy directly into electricity. The solar thermal energy has so far produced six hundred megawatts of solar thermal power globally, though there are plants under construction for more production of megawatts. Generally, the heating, ventilation as well as air conditioning consume an approximate of twenty-five percent of the energy used. However, with the advanced use of solar thermal energy, bigger portions of this energy are offset as well as cutting down on cost. The solar thermal energy is able to store energy during the day, so as to release it during the cooler periods. Some of the regular thermal mass objects used comprise of stone, concrete as well as water. More so, some of the factors to be considered by the thermal mass placement include climate, daylighting along with shading conditions. A solar chimney may also be built to control the solar ventilation systems.
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A solar roadway is also another alternative, which is a proof of the solar panel technology. This is a specific surface of the road, which is able to use solar power photovoltaics to generate electricity. This technology aims at replacing highways, roads, parking lots, driveways as well as sidewalks with the new solar roadway expertise. The technology will replace the petroleum tarmac infrastructure with the solar roads that will accumulate energy to be used domestically as well as business utilization. The solar roads panel will also accumulate spare energy besides the solar infrastructure. This will enable the use of renewable energy that will replace the use of contemporary petroleum used to generate electricity.
Gaps in the Current Application of the Technology/Opportunities to Drive towards New Markets
Though the modern technology has invented a lot in the solar panels, there are still gaps for new markets. The solar cell is an existing gap in the solar panels technology. The solar cell is an electrical device, which converts the energy of light directly into electricity. More could be done on the invention of the solar cell, since it uses the photovoltaic effect as a way of functioning. It is an effective form of energy since it can use electric current without being attached to any external voltage. This will create new markets for the solar cells, which will expand the solar panels industry. In conclusion, solar panels have seen diverse advancements over the years as new technology is still being innovated. This gives a hopeful prospect in the industry that will ensure people cut down on the cost of fuels by using renewable sources of energy for their daily activities.