Researchers Try to Make Most of Available Solar Energy


Global warming is a pressing problem that has led to swift uptake of cleaner alternate energy such as solar, wind, geothermal, nuclear, and hydro. Among those, solar power is becoming increasingly popular on account of the comparatively easy and hassle-free installations of devices and the off-grid electricity they serve to provide without requiring massive upfront capital. Policy support for solar energy too is boosting their market.

Sensing their usefulness, scientists are constantly working on creating more efficient solar panels, which are primarily comprised of photovoltaic cells, to harness greater energy from the sun. The most recent noteworthy development on that front has been an experiment by two doctoral students in the School of Architecture & Design (Arc/D), Kansas. They have come up with a processes to increase the amount of sunlight captured for production of electricity.

Experiment Reveals Green Roofs Surpass White and Black in Performance

They started by placing a solar panel monitoring system over three separate roofs – green, black, and white. Mohammed Alshayeb, one of the two students, also placed humidity, temperature, and light sensors and installed a weather station to measure wind speed and other weather conditions. Recordings were made by the sensors every five minutes for about a year, and the data gathered from them were then analyzed.

The experiment revealed that the industry practice of using white roofs instead of black was not exactly feasible since the former actually serves to reduce the efficiency of solar panels because of the heat they reflect up toward the panels. Panels installed on the green roof, however, performed best, producing on an average 1.4% extra energy than the black and white roofs.

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