According to the International Energy Agency, “by 2026, global renewable electricity capacity is forecast to rise more than 60% from 2020 levels to over 4,800 GW.” The IEA says Solar remains the leading renewable energy source, far outpacing the others.
Adoption of solar as a sustainable energy source is seeing huge year over year growth despite challenges, not the least of which is that it is not a continuous renewable energy source. Of course, the sun goes down at night. Since solar energy can feed into the grid only during the day, traditionally users must rely on other sources of power overnight.
That is, until now.
A team of engineers at Stanford University has developed a novel approach to solving the problem, by creating panels that can pull electricity from the small difference between ambient temperatures and the temperature of the surface of the panel itself.
For now, this technology can only generate enough electricity to power standby lighting in off-grid and mini-grid applications, and it’s probably far from being a commercially viable alternative. But, much like solar energy in general, it could become more capable and less expensive with time.
This development demonstrates that continued investment in research and development can drive innovation that will yield a return for the earth and the users of cost-effective renewable energy technologies.