Just about everyone knows that solar power exists, but very few Americans truly realize the extent of what it can do. First, the potential of the different types of solar panels is truly impressive. Second, as researchers learn more about harnessing the sun’s energy and putting together solar panels and solar power systems, it becomes possible to do it in more varied ways — with markedly different panel designs, smaller panels, or sometimes without using panels at all.
The Evolution Of Solar Panels
Solar panels have made great strides in the past few years. Most significantly, individual solar panel costs have dropped by 80% since 2008 — and energy loan programs, property tax incentives, and sales tax incentives continue to drive these prices even lower. Today’s solar panels, typically photovoltaic panels that work by converting photons to electrons, are also easy to maintain, averaging an impressive lifespan of 25 to 40 years. Homeowners are able to install these panels on rooftops, walls, or even on poles, brackets, or mounts right on the ground. And that’s not all. Manufacturers are making it possible for Americans living in apartments to take advantage of solar power by harvesting it from a remote or distant location and sending it to the appropriate unit. Finally, it is now possible to make solar panels that are small and flexible, providing an attractive option for signs and lighting fixtures in commercial buildings.
As researchers perfect ability to make solar panels smaller and smaller — and to create small but powerful solar cells — more and more things become possible. Rumor has it Apple is working on a solar-powered iPhone. “The wireless device has a touch sensor and a solar cell that converts ambient light into electrical power,” according to Patently Apple.
With a new solar power system going up once every four minutes and researchers continually working on new types of solar panels and solar cells, anything is possible.