The latest UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report makes it overwhelmingly clear that there is a dire need to invest in renewables and switch away from fossil fuels much faster to secure a safe climate future. Solar and wind power can limit global warming to 1.5C, new report reveals. Solar-powered electronics are fast becoming an everyday part of our lives.
For years, solar energy is a variable renewable because it only works when the sun shines. But recent research to overcome this flaw is already being developed at a fast pace. Scientists at a Swedish university have created an energy system that makes it possible to capture and store solar energy for up to 18 years, releasing it as heat when needed.
The Swedish researchers sent their unique molecule, loaded with solar energy, to colleagues at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. There the energy was released and converted into electricity using the generator they had developed. Essentially, Swedish sunshine was sent to the other side of the world and converted into electricity in China. The generator is an ultra-thin chip that could be integrated into electronics such as headphones, smart watches and telephones. So far, they have only generated small amounts of electricity, but the new results show that the concept really works. The device could potentially replace batteries and solar cells, fine-tuning the way we use the sun’s abundant energy.
Stored solar will be an important part in the future energy system. It means that we can use solar energy to produce electricity regardless of weather, time of day, season, or geographical location. It is a fossil and emissions-free way of generating electricity. The beauty of this closed, circular system is that it works without causing CO2 emissions, meaning it has great potential for use with renewable energy. Traditionally, solar panels have been made from waste crops that absorb UV light even on cloudy days while ‘night solar panels’ have been created that work even once the sun has set. Self-healing solar panels may be the future of reliable clean energy. Over the years, researchers have refined the system to the point that it is now possible to store the energy for an incredible 18 years. Solar power can now be converted to electricity on demand.
While significant advances in solar energy like this give cause for hope, the scientists caution it will take time for the technology to become integrated into our lives. A lot of research and development remains before we will be able to charge our technical gadgets with the system’s stored solar energy. Even though the system is based on simple materials, it needs to be adapted so it is cost-effective to produce before it can be launched more widely.
Despite the fact that Pakistan has huge potential for solar energy, it presently produces only 1.16% of its electricity through solar power whereas 64% of energy needs are met through expensive furnace oil. Renewable energy offers long term solution as it gives access to affordable electricity supply to residential and commercial users who could store energy and later on sell power to the national grid. Other benefits include reduced power bills, assistance to small businesses and increased employment opportunities for youth. The power produced is clean and does not create global warming. Across the world, countries are providing incentives to consumers to install solar panel systems. However, a lot needs to be done in Pakistan on this front for example, if only net metering could be allowed, monopoly of DISCOs and IPPs could be broken and circular debt could be reduced. In addition, net metering is in accordance with UNFCCC, Paris agreement, UN SDGs and other international laws.