Solar energy is the future of electricity production. Many scientists around the world are currently working hard on getting new ideas and advances in order to make global solar energy. It is estimated that in a few years renewable power sources replace the completely conventional electrical system, but before achieving this goal, a few steps are needed.
First of all, one of the reasons that hold many people from getting solar energy systems is because of the idea that there will be electricity available when the panel is receiving sunlight directly, which is not true.
Scientists have taken into consideration this thinking and they came up with a new creation: A new hybrid device that can do both jobs, capture solar energy and store it until it is ready to be used. Offering a great option to those who live in not very sunny areas.
Regular solar panels use photovoltaic technology to generate electricity. This hybrid device created by students from the University of Houston can actually capture the heat provided by the sun and store it as thermal energy until is ready to be used. This idea could represent a great advance in the solar energy field since areas that don’t receive a lot of sunlight during the year can now enjoy solar energy anytime they want.
Success of this hybrid is due to the combination of molecular energy storage and latent heat storage, which can make it produce electricity at the same time it stores it in a 24/7 operation. It has been reported an increase on the panels efficiency at small-scale of 73 percent, and 90 percent at large-scale. The best part of it, 80 percent of the energy that has been stored and used can be recovered during the night. Being higher the levels of energy recovering during the daytime.
The reason why this device works so well is because it has the ability to capture the full spectrum of energy from the sun, generate it for immediate use and then store the energy that hasn’t been used for further productions.
“During the day, the solar thermal energy can be harvested at temperatures as high as 120 degrees centigrade (about 248 Fahrenheit),” said T. Randall Lee, Cullen Distinguished University Chair Professor of the university. “At night, when there is low or no solar irradiation, the stored energy is harvested by the molecular storage material, which can convert it from a lower energy molecule to a higher energy molecule.” This is why the energy that has been stored can be more efficient producing thermal energy at night rather than during the day.
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