The Energy Crisis
And how to turn a city into a solar farm
The energy crisis
Currently every day humanity uses over a million terajoules of energy. That’s over 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 joules or a million, million, million joules. And that number is only expected to grow.
Nearly 75% of global greenhouse emissions come from energy and energy use. As of 2018 over 789 million people lacked electricity. The need for a sustainable, reliable, affordable, and modern energy is bigger than ever before.
Enter the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s)
The sustainable development goals were created in 2015 and are a collection of 17 calls to action hoping to be accomplished by 2030. Among the 17 goals is number 7, Affordable and clean energy. This goal is centered around giving everyone access to energy that is sustainable and reliable.
Breaking down the problem
The way I see it to make energy more accessible and sustainable our efforts need to be focused on 2 areas:
- Developed countries
Who are currently still relying on non-renewable energy sources such as fossil fuels and need a faster transition to renewable.
- Developing countries
Who have limited access to electricity and are forced to rely on things such as inefficient open fires to cook food.
Turning a skyscraper into a solar farm
One of the main barriers with solar panels are the vast space they take up, while sure, you could place a couple thousand of them in the Sahara desert frankly that isn’t convenient.
A new technology called photovoltaic (PV) glass is emerging. PV glass is literally clear solar panels. As of 200 researchers have achieved 100% transparency.
Conventional solar panels work by converting photons from the sun and converting it to electrons aka electricity. The problem with this is that these solar panels are basically absorbing the light. Photovoltaic glass on the other hand uses transparent luminescent solar concentrator (TLSC) absorb UV and infrared invisible light from the sun. The TLSC then transfers the light as another invisible wavelength along the side of the solar panel to the photovoltaic solar cell.
The main bonus of photovoltaic glass is the fact that it is clear and affordable, imagine every window in a city having PV glass on it. Every skyscraper, car windshield, phone screen could be generating electricity.
As with most technologies it isn’t perfect. One of the downsides of PV glass includes the fact that it only has 10% efficiency. Compared to conventional solar panels which have on average 15–20% efficiency. Additionally in general solar panels have the downside of only limited use on cloudy days or at night. (although there is research into “anti-solar panels” which could work at night!)
- Humans use A LOT of energy which also has a big impact on the environment. Sustainable, affordable, accessible, and reliable energy is needed.
- When making energy more sustainable and accessible we have to focus on both the developed and developing countries.
- A new technology called photovoltaic glass which is a clear solar panel is a potential solution for sustainable energy especially as it can be implemented on large scale in city windows .
If you liked this article clap it and thanks for reading.