The ever-changing solar market continues to move ahead with enormous strides. While such innovations such as the new “plug ‘n’ play” solar panels are creating buzz, there are a number of other significant innovations that are helping homeowners fulfill their energy-saving goals.
Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corporation recently introduced a material that enables the walls of buildings (and other structures) to generate electricity. Unlike solar panels or films, the energy is produced within the actual building materials, integrating them into the structure of the facility.
According to the company, each square meter of the material is capable of generating about 80 watts of power, with an efficiency of 11% (most solar panels are 10% to 20% efficient).
When you consider the potential for commercial and industrial applications, in particular, this technology could prove to be a significant step.
…To the Top of the Wall
And if solar-capable walls aren’t enough, keep climbing up the walls. And no, it’s not a solar panel you’ll see.
Those are shingles.
Looking for an alternative to traditional solar panels, but don’t know where to turn? You’re in luck. The Dow Chemical Company launched its POWERHOUSE™ Solar Shingle late last year in Denver, (they are expected to expand to other markets this year).
The new, three-part solar roofing system package includes shingles, an inverter and an energy monitoring system. The shingles can be customized to fit budget and energy goals, and can be arranged to integrate with the style and form of the home and roofline. Moreover, they provide the same functionality and protection as a traditional shingle.
An inverter then converts Direct Current (DC) produced from the shingles into Alternating Current (AC), which is then fed to the home’s appliances (or back to the power grid). And a real-time monitoring system provides readouts to homeowners to assess energy usage, production and the amount of excess power flowing back to the grid.
What Could Be Next?
With significant improvements to window and door solar technology, and the potential for solar-powered sidewalks and roads, what will be the next frontier for the solar-powered home? Printable solar strips for your inkjet, perhaps? Let’s hear your ideas!
Article by Tim Laughlin, appearing courtesy Xcel Energy Blog.