Solar Products in 2021: Innovations to Look Out for This Year
With the summer solstice quite literally on the horizon, we have officially made it halfway through 2021. In June and July, total average sun hours are at their highest throughout the year, so what better time to talk about the most interesting innovations in solar power technology.
For years, the Solar Us Shop has been providing our customers with high-quality solar energy products and we are constantly on the lookout for the next big thing. In 2021, solar power production and storage technology has never been more advanced, with tons of people, groups, and companies researching, developing, and funding the renewable energy revolution.
From small devices to massive panel arrays, in this article, we take a full look at some of the most interesting developments in solar energy technology as they stand in 2021.
The Most Interesting Solar Products of 2021
Solar energy is all around us, whether you are aware of it or not. Passive solar energy has been used to light homes through windows and skylights for centuries, while thermal solar energy has been used to heat homes and water supplies all the same.
In 2021 photovoltaic (PV) solar technology is more present than ever before, with people, governments, and other organizations using electricity-generating panels to produce and use cheap, emission-free energy.
Floating Solar Panels (Floatovoltaics)
If you haven’t heard the term Floatovoltaics, it's simply a fun play on words for “floating photovoltaics.” So essentially, what we are talking about here is floating solar panels.
Floating solar panels have been around for a few decades, but global adoption of the concept has accelerated in 2021. For instance, the first floating solar power plant in Albania started producing electricity as Europe's largest renewable energy generator.
While the solar panels themselves are not directly on the water, PV generators on the Statkraft are safely arranged to produce tons of electricity. Here in the Solar Us Shop, you can experience the latest floating solar panel technology on a much smaller scale with the Solar Breeze Ariel Pool Skimmer, one of our most exciting new products this year.
Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) Solar Panels
While every solar array is technically integrated into the building or property it is installed on, more and more developers are incorporating solar panels directly into a new building's design or as part of an existing structure’s renovation.
Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) solar panels come in a variety of forms and materials, with many large property owners looking for opportunities to replace glass windows, skylights, and building sides with functional PV technology. In 2021, there are a few companies in the United States, Canada, and throughout the world who are developing “solar shingles” or “solar roof tiles” that combine innovative renewable energy generation with traditional roof aesthetics.
Solar Cars & Vehicle-Integrated Photovoltaics (VIPV)
Are we living in the future yet? It sure seems like it, as driving a car with a tank full of solar power is actually quite the reality of today. With EV purchases on the rise and the supporting infrastructure on its way, every bit of electricity that is generated by solar energy and used to charge an electric vehicle can rightfully claim to be a “solar-powered car.”
At the beginning of this year, Autoweek stated that solar-powered charging stations will be vital to the growth and prosperity of EVs in the United States and beyond. Although purely solar charging stations are very expensive to build, many investors in 2021 are recognizing the long-term value and are taking advantage of the extended federal solar and storage tax credits to help finance their development.
In terms of a real “solar-powered” car, 2021 may mark the year in which vehicle-integrated photovoltaics become more of a reality for businesses and individuals. For example, the Institute for Solar Energy Research in Hamelin, Germany (ISFH) has developed a small commercial vehicle prototype with onboard solar panels designed to extend trips by providing added driving distance capacity.
Flexible PV Fabrics
While we have been selling high-efficiency semi-flexible solar panels for years, 2021’s flexible PV fabric innovations may just bring some of the most interesting solar products to market by the end of the year. Despite being less efficient than rigid PV panels with traditional solar cells, there are many interesting benefits and uses for continuously improving technologies such as solar fabrics.
If you’re not familiar, PV solar fabric is exactly what you think it is. Just like any cloth, PV fabric is constructed by weaving together small parts to create a flexible, cohesive end product. In PV fabrics, of course, the materials are lined with real-solar energy-generating panels.
Although many manufacturers are entering the space, France’s Solar Cloth has been our favorite start-up to watch. The company announced that their new vehicle integrated solar cloth will be used to provide electricity for internal systems in Renault Trucks.
Space-Based Solar Power
Last but not least, our favorite solar power innovation in 2021 is truly out of this world. Space-based solar power has consistently been used to keep the light on onboard the International Space Station, however, developments are being made to bring some of this energy back to earth.
In space, the sun never sets, which means solar panels floating in the Earth’s atmosphere and beyond can potentially generate electricity 24 hours a day. Plus, there is no shade from trees or buildings, save for the occasional lunar or planetary eclipse.
Earlier this year, the United States Space Force’s military plane confirmed this, after successfully transforming solar power into microwaves and sending them back to Earth. While preliminary results boast an 8% module efficiency rate, this technology is truly one of the most interesting developments to keep an eye on this year and for decades to come.
So there you have it! Without being too cheesy, we’d really like to say that solar power has a very bright future. Although we personally won’t be installing any intergalactic solar panels anytime soon, feel free to check out all of our green energy products in the Solar Us Shop to experience renewable energy in the palm of your hand.