President Obama has called for the United States to produce 80% of the nation’s energy needs from renewable sources by the year 2035. This is the moon mission of our generation. And just like the moon mission, achieving it will require rapid technological innovation. Solar power, with its ever increasing efficiency and ever decreasing cost is expected to continue to be a major player in the renewable energy sector. Ray Kurzweil, Director of Engineering at Google, has predicted that solar could produce 100% of the energy consumed in this country within just two decades. Realistically this will only happen with major technological advances, creative implementation, and an entrepreneurial spirit.
Perhaps one of the futuristic solar prototypes listed below will help the nation reach this lofty 2035 goal.
Rawlemon Solar Devices
Rawlemon is a spherical solar concentrating system that uses trackers to follow the sun. This technology collects about 70% more energy than PV panels of the same size, and they offer a distinctive look that is sleek and futuristic. The aesthetic design was a crucial element in the manufacturer’s ability to bring the concept to market. Both its form and function aim to create consumer buy-in from the get-go.
Solar Roadways are solar panels designed to replace hardscapes such as roadways and parking lots. They offer integrated technology that could reduce operation and maintenance costs because of their ability to melt snow and ice and illuminate dangers on the roadway. The concept though has been met with controversy over its economic viability given it’s high cost of installation, maintenance, and sustainability. Its durability has been brought into question by electrical engineering experts.
Both of these prototypes are seeking funding through online crowd-funding sites. They are in the early stages of development. Perhaps neither will become commercially successful. But, together these solar prototypes provide an opportunity for us to dream about an alternate, exciting, solar future.Feature Image: Artist concept of a solar roadway. Image via CNN.