Tech corner

The future is solar


A little look at the world of solar panel technology

The way we use solar power is in a constant state of flux, with new advances in the technology announced across the globe almost every week. We’ve taken a little look at some of the recent breakthroughs you should know about in the world of solar panel technology.


Wearable solar fabric

Though solar-powered watches and other such gadgets have been available to buy for a while now, the past few years have seen a new concept of wearable solar tech in the form of solar textiles. These are tiny solar panels that can be stitched into the fabric of clothing, credited to textile designer Marianne Fairbanks and chemist Trisha Andrew.

This new and exciting textile concept makes it possible for solar to branch out into homeware products like window curtains, and other everyday items such as heated car seats.


Updates to solar panels

One big problem for the solar industry is that a high percentage of homeowners think that solar panels are an unsightly addition to their properties, and therefore are wary about getting them installed. Trying to work around this, one American design firm is making major strides with a new aesthetic enhancement that will allow solar panels to have a customised and neater look.

Their solar skin product makes it possible for solar panels to almost seamlessly match the appearance of a roof, without compromising the efficiency of the panels.


Solar powered roads

Last year, a section of pavement along America’s iconic highway Route 66 was selected as the testing location for the concept of solar-powered road technology.

If successful, solar roads would have the ability to generate clean energy, simultaneously containing LED bulbs that can light roads at night to prevent accidents.

Areas of the road on Route 66 are set to be fitted with the technology soon for more tests. If all goes well, there’s no telling how far this inventive tech will travel – perhaps the Clive Sullivan Way of the future will power our homes?


Solar water purifiers

Stanford University researchers have recently collaborated with the Department of Energy, with the goal to develop a brand new solar device that has the ability to purify water when exposed to sunlight.

Though their idea isn’t entirely new – solar powered water devices have been made already – this minuscule tablet is significantly more efficient compared to past inventions, as it only requires a tiny amount of sunlight and a few minutes to produce safe and reliable drinking water.


Solar windows

Solar window technology isn’t quite ready for widespread production yet, but there are several technologies behind the concept currently being developed that could hit the market in the near future.

Hypothetically, solar windows would be able to replace standard glass window panes, offering multiple benefits, many consumers who have trialed the tech love them because they can be much more aesthetically appealing and even easier to maintain than other more traditional solar options, all while generating energy for your home and reducing your household’s carbon footprint.

Sign up for our newsletter

KCOM respects your privacy. View our Privacy Notice to learn more.