Utah is one of the seven states in the US with the best potential for solar energy.
Over the past few years, Utah has been at forefront in researching and developing renewable energy technologies and infrastructure, given the fact that the state receives glorious amounts of sunlight each month. From being the country’s biggest miner, supplier and export of coal, petroleum and natural gas, Utah is moving towards a renewable future.
Academic institutions, engineers and local government are working together to achieve a common goal, to obtain 20% of electricity from renewable sources by 2025. Utah seeks to lessen its contribution to global carbon emissions without damaging the profitability of its most important industry.
To University of Utah researchers, going solar is not just about installing solar panels and getting incentives and tax rebates from the state and federal governments. The bigger goal is becoming one of the country and the world’s biggest sources of renewable energy and technology, given that the state has the potential to generate over 1.5 million GWh per year by just using 6,371 square miles, or 7.5% of the state’s total area.
This knowledge led the University of Utah to develop a product that could boost the potential of solar power around the world. Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering in University of Utah Rajesh Menon notes that the electricity produced from solar energy is more expensive than what fossil fuels can produce.
According to utsmartenergy.com, solar energy cells are only able to absorb a very narrow range of the wave lengths from sunlight and that most panels can only capture about 30 percent of the potential power. This explains why many people don’t consider solar to be a practical choice, especially from the perspective of a developing nation.
As a result, the university designed a product, a specially-prepared piece of plastic or glass to make the solar power process much more efficient and address these big challenges and provide practical and efficient solutions.
The research is in still currently in progress for over five years now. The researchers are positive that they will be able to build a commercial prototype in five years, and it will be capable of increasing a solar panel’s productivity by 50 percent more.