What are the pros and cons of solar energy? Here’s everything you need to know

Using solar energy to meet your power demands does not only make you more environmentally friendly, it may actually save you money.

‘Solar windows’ change from transparent to tinted at high temperatures, blocking the sun while generating electricity

For the smart buildings of the future.

How exactly do solar panels work?

Solar energy is on the rise, but how does it really work?

Bacteria-printed solar cells produce electricity during both day and night

Living solar cells could power medical or environmental sensors. They’re fully biodegradable too.

How much land California needs to cover with solar panels to become 100% fossil fuel-free

Sounds like a lot, but by comparison with other infrastructure, it’s far from being intimidating. ‘Let’s get to work!’

Solar cells woven into fabric could turn any tent, curtain or clothes into a solar panel

Solar energy is definitely in fashion nowadays.

Swiss startup demoes residential solar panels twice as efficient than what the market has to offer

Another confirmation that solar energy is moving fast.

Elon Musk’s company revealed plans for a roof made of solar panels

Elon Musk has shown plenty of times in the past that he’s not afraid to go a bit outside the box – or even a bit more.

Ikea resumes selling solar panels in the UK

Ikea made it much easier for British people to green their homes – for a while. Then, after the government reduced subsidies for renewable energy, the company quietly stopped selling the panels, and now they’ve resumed them again. Why Ikea selling solar panels matters When Ikea starts selling something, it’s safe to say it’s become mainstream. Initially, the company said that the

San Francisco just became the first big US city to require solar panels on new buildings

Making the most of that California sun.

You’ve heard all about solar cells, but what about bacterial solar cells?

On the desk of Seokheun “Sean” Choi sits a 3×3 array that at first glance looks like a lemon squeezer. It is, in fact, a solar panel but not like any you’ve seen or heard about before. Instead of using semiconductors like silicon crystals to convert sunlight into electricity, the array employs a complex system that nurtures cyanobacteria — beings whose metabolism create free electrons which can be harnessed.

Rooftop solar could meet 39% of U.S. electricity needs

Sunny states like California, Texas and Florida topped the list of states where rooftop solar could generate the most energy.

U.S. small town rejects solar project out of fear it would ‘suck up all the energy from the sun’

Citizens were against installing a solar farm because it would suck all the energy from the sun — so plants will die.

120-country Solar Alliance announced at COP21 in Paris

A possible game changer – 120 country alliance spearheaded by India and supported by France has been announced, with the purpose of promoting solar energy in developing countries. Many developing countries enjoy sun-rich areas, but they lack the technology and financial capabilities to make full use of that potential. With that in mind, India’s prime minister Narendra Modi said that the

Finally, the metal wiring in solar cells might stop reflecting light. One up solar efficiency

There’s an inherent flaw in solar cells: the metal wiring that’s quintessential to harnessing the electrons reflects the incoming light, acting like a mirror. Now, must people would brush off this issue and leave it like that. It’s a necessary trade off. But a team at Stanford University devised an elegant chemical technique that basically hides the wiring with silicon, away from the light while preserving energy harnessing. Metal wires cover 5 to 10 percent of a solar cell’s surface. Now, in the same area more light can be absorbed, hence more electricity generated which jumps the efficiency. Of course, this also means cheaper solar panels — if only the chemical technique is covered by the recurring costs of increased efficiency.

A simple coating cools solar panels by reflecting the heat into outer space

No kidding, Stanford researchers actually showed it’s possible to cool solar panels by applying a special coating that reflects some of the heat back into space. The coating, called a photonic crystal cooling system, is transparent. This allows the light to reach the PV cells so these can generate energy, but – crucially – some of the heat is reflected back in space. It’s so good that the researchers showed their PV panels can even stay below ambient temperature, which is incredible by itself. If you know a thing or two about solar panels, then you’ll remember their efficiency is directly related to temperature. The cooler a panel is, the more of the sun’s energy it can convert into electricity. And we’re talking about a mere coating, which shouldn’t be too difficult to scale. Bit by bit, you if you multiply the extra efficiency by millions of panels you end up with a huge useful energy gain. This may be a game changer.

‘Solar suflower’ array generates 60 times more power than a typical solar panel

An innovative concentrated solar power design called the “Solar Sunflower” was recently demonstrated by Swiss researchers at Airlight Energy and IBM Research in Zurich. The energy generator concentrates 5,000 suns onto a semiconductor chip to generate both electricity and heat at 80% efficiency. This meas roughly 60 times more power generated over the same surface area than a typical roof-mounted solar panel – granted, the parabolic dish array, which is quite big, isn’t included. The electricity and hot water generated by one single Solar Sunflower can meet the needs of a couple homes.

How much solar panels on your roof can save you? Ask Google

Most people have an outdated belief that solar energy is too expensive. For most people living in the United States, this isn’t true for some time and Google just released a new project to make a point of this. Called Project Sunroof, the tool uses extensive satellite imagery from Google Maps and superimposes sunlight energy flux data over them.

World’s first solar road works better than expected

Only six months ago, a 230-foot strip of road was covered in solar panels in the Netherlands. Since then, some 3,000 kilowatt-hours of energy were produced or enough to power one Dutch home for a whole year. These news came as a surprise even to the developers of SolaRoad, as the project has been dubbed.

This beautiful stained glass window doubles as a solar panel

We’ve written several times that scientists have managed to develop colored glass usable as a solar panel; of course, the glass won’t absorb as much energy as traditional, black panels, but it’s still something – and it’s pleasant to the eye as well. Dutch designer Marjan van Aubel had an interesting take on how to use the technology, developing this beautiful stained glass window which generates electrical current by absorbing sunlight.