Top Solar Energy innovations of 2015

3 minutes

Earth we conquered, Oceans exploring, Airs exploiting, Sun remains a mystery. But there is still a ray of hope. Forward-thinking minds are discovering ways to friend the sun from a distance. Harness the solar energy in many exciting ways, from the ground beneath our feet to the shirt off our back, companioning with the sun for a world tour to rebuilding cities.

Fossil energies are depleting fast and the reason world is divided. Solar power is the last energy resource that isn’t owned yet – nobody taxes the sun yet. Remarkable efforts made in this direction have been made in last twelve to eighteen months. HashingLife.com brings to you few amazing innovations using solar energy.

Solar Power - RIPASSO CSP

On an average, a family consumes 900 kilowatts of power per annum, at an average cost of Rs. 15,000 to 20,000. Imagine, if all this comes for relatively free. Ripasso CSP runs on solar energy and generates between 75 to an 80-megawatt hour of electricity per annum which is good to suffice electricity need of 102 families in India in a year. On usual days, it would require burning 81 metric tonne of coal to generate the same quantum of power. Commercial trials for this equipment has been done and the machinery looks scalable.

Mr Drucker once said, ‘If you are really and extremely good at something that everyone wants, then you have made it. Start connecting with your audience. This is the place where you want to be’. I too believe in startup beyond just personal value creation.

Solar Energy Startup yeloha.com

“Forward-thinking minds are discovering ways to friend the sun from a distance. Harness the solar energy in many exciting ways, from the ground beneath our feet to the shirt off our back, companioning with the sun for a world tour to rebuilding cities”

Investing in solar panels and set-up space is a pre-requisite for captive solar power generation which is probably limiting its off-take. This startup Yeloha.com has simplified the problem. It is a peer-to-peer solar sharing platform where you can go solar off neighbour’s solar installation and share the cost of consumption. Yeloha’s app helps you track the renewable and clean energy your solar panels are producing and brag about it to your social network too. Currently, based in Boston, they are now expanding to New York and other locales. They call themselves the world’s solar sharing network.

A campaign on Facebook called ‘Rebuild the Sun’ caught my attention. This campaign is run by an NGO called Gham Power in Nepal who are distributing solar power systems across earthquake affected families They supply solar-powered batteries for lighting up homes and charging mobile phones to connect with their near ones. Indiegogo a crowd-funding initiative by them generated $ 150,000 for brightening up 4500 families and charge 30,000 mobile phones across Nepal.

Around the world tour is an obvious desire of a wanderer. Now the desired utopia, straight from a fairy tale. Imagine, around the world flight powered only on solar energy that could fly day and night without fuel. Bertrand Piccard’s mission to go around the world the solar way transformed through Solar Impulse. A 100% solar compatible aircraft is powered by a high-definition Lithium battery that spreads across the wing. The wings are made of 1200 solar cells that are supported on four quartz motor.

On average a solar power equipment converts 23% of sunlight into electricity. But more efficient ones convert as high as 34%. How about road and parking lot covered with Solar panels that send solar power back to the grid and is used for powering parking automation systems and street lighting. Here is a solution at prototyping stage which has passed civil engineering tests.

By 2050, global demand for water will increase by 55% with 70% of the water used for processing food. India based Jain Irrigation System in collaboration with MIT have created a desalination machine that filters drinkable water from salt water using solar energy. The water is safe for drinking and irrigation after it has been processed by the ultra-violet rays of the sun.

solar energy - solarshirtSolar sounds industrial indeed. Credit to fashionistas who have found fashion in solar energy. The latest being solar-powered shirt designed by Pauline Van Dongen. 120 thin-film solar cells integrated into the fabric generates enough electricity to power portable devices like smartphones, mp3 players, etc.

India’s solar investment target by 2017 is $100 billion which will make solar 10% of the total energy mix. By 2020, solar power in volume terms is expected to rise to 100 gigawatts from current 4 gigawatts levels. Irrespective it is a delight for corporates or aims at using Solar more for the social well-being of Indians, I am happy with both.

Neither a Misanthropist nor a Misologist, I am a cent percent Opportunist. First there is madness, and then illumination. You never know, next Yeloha.com could be from India. Hope to see more innovations in 2016.

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