With todays increasing knowledge in materials and semiconductors, and our growing expertise in nanotechnology, it should be no surprise that there are various labs and working groups across the planet that are working on new, exciting photovoltaic devices and processes that can drasticly reduce the cost of solar power and virtually change everything else too.
Part of my daily routine envolves scanning worldwide for new announcements which support my belief that we truly are on the cusp of such devices and that there is every reason to be hopeful for their introduction and acceptance into the public and private energy infrastructure.
Imagine a power paint that can be applied to almost any man made surface that will turn that wall, that roof, that south facing shed roof into a solar generator. Even better, imagine that surface being in the fibers in your T Shirt.
Imagine these surfaces taking the energy in the deaccelerated photon
and converting that energy into electrical energy.
Imagine this material to be ubiquitous and more or less non toxic.
Here is a nice piece from last weekend:
TORONTO - Researchers at the University of Toronto have invented an infrared-sensitive material that's five times more efficient at turning the sun's power into electrical energy than current methods.
The discovery could lead to shirts and sweaters capable of recharging our cellphones and other wireless devices, said Ted Sargent, professor of electrical and computer engineering at the university.
Sargent and other researchers combined specially-designed minute particles called quantum dots, three to four nanometres across, with a polymer to make a plastic that can detect energy in the infrared.
Infrared light is not visible to the naked eye but it is what most remote controls emit, in small amounts, to control devices such as TVs and DVD players.
It also contains a huge untapped resource -- despite the surge in popularity of solar cells in the 1990s, we still miss half of the sun's power, Sargent said.
"In fact, there's enough power from the sun hitting the Earth every day to supply all the world's needs for energy 10,000 times over,'' Sargent said in a phone interview Sunday from Boston. He is currently a visiting professor of nanotechnology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Sargent said the new plastic composite is, in layman's terms, a layer of film that "catches'' solar energy. He said the film can be applied to any device, much like paint is coated on a wall.
"We've done the same thing, but not with something that just sit there on the wall the way paint does,'' said the Ottawa native.
"We've done it to make a device which actually harnesses the power in the room in the infrared.''
The film can convert up to 30 per cent of the sun's power into usable, electrical energy. Today's best plastic solar cells capture only about six per cent.
What is really fun about this heat based or infrared technology, is that it not only completely destroys any reason to produce electricity with coal, nuclear, or for that matter even wind, it also completely changes our air-conditioning industry too. That in turn, completely changes the loads that utilities must meet in warm climates.
Why spend energy to remove heat from a room when you can paint the walls and ceilings to suck the heat off of the body creating comfort at the skin level? Even better, that so called waste heat would then produce usable power to power the new solid state lights painted on the ceiling or on other walls that are simply the same product working in reverse! These devices could create usable light or heat or both.
They are a creme rinse, a floor wax, and a dessert topping.
These ideas were in my future log writings just three years ago.
Instead of being a "futurist", I am beginning to feel like a "nowist".
It certainly fires up the Hope.
For the earthfamily.