Isn't it difficult to believe? A team of specialized engineers at Stanford University created solar panels that can generate electricity both during the day — and at night. The study comes at a time when many new types of technology are emerging in the renewable energy space as a result of rising demand for both residential and commercial solar. This is also evident as the demand for renewable energy shifts from wind to solar.
According to the study, which was published in the journal Applied Physics Letter, the newly developed solar panels are made of "photovoltaic cell(s) that harvest energy from the environment during the day and night, avoiding the need for batteries entirely." The technology employs thermoelectric modules, which generate electricity from temperature gradients between PV cells and the surrounding air. This is based on the panel's thermal design, which includes a hot and cold side. Furthermore, this technology is relatively inexpensive to implement, and in theory, this setup can be applied to pre-existing PV solar panels.
At night, the electricity required to power lights and other basic utilities is minimal. Because this device's current technology can generate 50 milliwatts per square meter, lighting would require approximately 20 square meters of photovoltaic area.
Stanford engineers hope to constantly improve the thermal insulation and thermoelectric components of the new technology.
Continuous solar advancements allow for better solar conversions over time and electricity optimization. The renewable energy industry is changing and growing rapidly, including more demand for commercial solar. We can expect this trend in new research and technology to continue over the next decade as many countries move closer to net-zero climate goals and cleaner energy.