Although estimates vary considerably, most scientists agree that, at some point, the Earth will begin to run out of fossil fuels. When this happens, one of the best alternative sources of energy available to us will be the sun. The fiery orb emits more power in a single hour than the world uses in an entire year and if we can find a way to harvest and store this energy efficiently, we could wean ourselves off of oil for good.
At the moment, solar can provide up to 25% of the UK’s energy needs however it regularly accounts for just 3.4% of electricity produced. Although this helps to lower our national carbon footprint, it still leaves a lot of room for improvement. The recent news that scientists in the US are close to creating windows that can generate solar electricity is therefore incredibly exciting. Potentially transforming the way that we harvest the sun’s energy and making solar electricity available to everyone, this important innovation could revolutionise the way the world is powered.
Energy Potential Of Windows
Fitted in virtually every home, office block and vehicle in the world, glass has huge potential as a solar energy generator. In the US, it’s estimated that solar windows could provide up to 40% of the country’s energy needs. If new properties have solar windows installed as standard, many homes could soon be generating their own power without the need for cumbersome and expensive solar panels.
Harvesting Green Energy
The technology that will be used to power these high tech windows is currently being developed by a research team at Michigan State University. Led by Richard Lunt, a professor of chemical engineering and material science, the team has been working on transparent solar panels that can be installed in cars and homes to generate electricity. The photovoltaic cells only harvest transparent light like ultraviolet while letting in the rest of the light spectrum. This allows the panels to be incorporated into vehicles and properties without any adverse affects on the people that use the spaces. It’s hoped that the technology will be good enough for production in just a few years time.
The Importance Of Green Energy
As well as being finite, fossil fuels are of course incredibly bad for the environment. Finding a renewable source of electricity that’s also ecologically sound has therefore been a priority for many experts working in the energy industry. Alongside hydroelectric power and wind power, solar is one of the most obvious, abundant and practical solutions to our green energy needs. The more solar panels that are installed, the less we’ll have to rely on fossil fuels, something that should help ease our impact on the earth and make the future more sustainable.