Solar Panels Could Soon Generate Power From Raindrops

April 11, 2016

Solar energy is indeed the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy source available.

But it is not very versatile in places and in seasons that don't get much sun.

Hence, Chinese researchers have come up with innovative technology that can turn raindrops into energy.

The new solar cell has been developed by researchers in Qingdao, China. Unlike most solar cells, this device has a single sheet of graphene on its upper surface. The clever part is that rainwater isn’t pure: It contains compounds like ammonium, calcium and sodium, all of which become ions when they’re in solution.

When that water sits on top of a layer of graphene, it creates what the researchers call a ‘pseudocapacitor’—spots of unbalanced charge where electrons are donated from one side to the other. Unbalanced charge is basically just a voltage, which means that the researchers can use the process to capture electricity.

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Graphene is perfect. But there are two slight problems.

It's pretty expensive and its performance in optimal solar conditions is not impressive at all.

But, there's hope that scientists will figure this one out and we'll be well on our merry way towards 'all-weather' panels.

Solar energy is and will continue to be the frontrunner renewable in the fight to de-carbonize the world.

We've already seen interesting developments towards making it bigger and better.

China is one of the globe’s major solar panel manufacturing bases and plans to up its solar energy uptake in the coming years. It intends to triple its solar power capacity to as much as 143 gigawatts by 2020, according to a recent Bloomberg report.

The U.S. will not be left behind.

In 2015, SolarCity, co-founded by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, announced that it will make its most cutting-edge solar panels in the US. The San Mateo, Calif.-based firm will build its

The San Mateo, will build its most efficient rooftop solar panels at a new facility in Buffalo, N.Y.

 

 

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