What comes to mind when you think of ‘solar energy’?
You might immediately think of the 'traditional' uses for solar panels... for homes, or solar swimming pool heaters, or a popular alternative to electric heat pumps.
However, the uses for solar power are quickly multiplying, and becoming the way of the future. Everything from transportation to wearable tech is getting a solar upgrade.
In the year 2018, many more sunlight-powered applications will become commonplace — and even change our expectations about solar energy.
Here at World Solar we predict that these will be the most common uses for solar power in 2018...
Solar powered lighting is a new, exciting development. Lamps powered by solar energy work by storing the sun’s energy during the daytime, so they can stay powered throughout the night.
Outdoor solar lighting is an inexpensive, stylish and energy-saving upgrade to your home. Indoor solar lighting, which is great for camping, is becoming popular too. In 2018, look for solar lighting to grow in popularity with consumers around the globe.
Solar powered transportation
Soon, our transit options will get us from place to place using the sun’s energy. Solar powered cars that harness photovoltaic (PV) energy are transitioning from the world of racing to the consumer market. One example is the Stella Vie concept, a solar powered family car built in the Netherlands and a star of the World Solar Challenge in Australia.
In the near future, more trains, buses, and planes will be solar powered as well. One need only look at the Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU) which recently debuted in India. The American company Solar Roadways is even bringing solar energy to roads, in order to power signage, enhance driver safety and even melt snow and ice!
The same heat that radiates from the sun can help keep the warmth inside at night. Aside from rooftop panels, smaller solar powered heating applications for the home are growing in prominence.
Solar space heaters are often enough to warm up indoor spaces without breaking the bank. They’re great for getting acquainted with the cost-saving benefits and energy efficient lifestyle solar power provides. In addition, solar water heaters, depending on the form, can be arrayed on a rooftop for economical heating.
Solar powered wearable tech
We’re already living in the era of wearable technology, surrounded by devices like smartwatches, smart clothing, and fitness trackers. And over time, more of them will be powered by the sun.
In 2015, Swarovski and Misfit made waves with the Shine, a wristwatch-style fitness tracker that harnesses and focuses sunlight inward with a cunningly-devised crystal. And, the recent development of stretchable solar panels that can be woven into clothing is quickly paving the way for solar powered fashion.
Rooftop solar panels
Using rooftop panels to heat your home is arguably where you’ll see the greatest possible advantage of solar energy: savings on your utility bills. Solar is getting exponentially cheaper, year on year, making it a more much more affordable solution for homeowners, and giving a better ROI.
With a rooftop solar installation, you’ll reduce your dependence on fossil fuels, and you’ll contribute to a cleaner environment. And of course, you will save a substantial amount of money over time.
In 2018, solar energy will power more of our lives, and there’s no better time than now to take advantage and start saving on your utility costs.