Newsfeed: Material from MIT stores solar energy, releases it on demand as heat energy

BOSTON.COM MIT researchers develop material that turns solar power into heat In a finding that could one day change your […]


MIT researchers develop material that turns solar power into heat

In a finding that could one day change your wintry de-icing duty, MIT researchers have developed a polymer that’s capable of storing solar power and releasing it later as a blast of heat, MIT News reports. Today’s solar panels typically work by taking in sunlight and converting it to electricity. But the polymer being developed would store the sun’s rays in a chemical reaction that is then converted into heat.

The discovery, published in the journal Advanced Energy Materials in December, is based on research by MIT professor Jeffrey Grossman, postdoc David Zhitomirsky, and graduate student Eugene Cho. The researchers developed a chemical polymer that remains stable in two configurations, MIT News explains. When hit with sunlight, the polymer changes into a “charged” position. Then the polymer releases heat when stimulated and returns to its original configuration.

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5 Solar Energy Trends for 2016 in the Residential Market

The U.S. has enough installed solar energy capacity to power 4.6 million homes. Solar energy accounted for 32 percent of total new power generation in 2014, exceeding coal and wind energy but lagging behind natural gas. In just nine years, the installed cost of solar energy has fallen by more than 73 percent – setting up the industry for explosive growth.

TriplePundit spoke with Vikram Aggarwal, founder and CEO of EnergySage, the so-called “Expedia of solar,” about solar energy trends and what to expect for 2016 in the residential market.

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Solar Energy Is the Future; You Can’t Stop It

If the utilities decide to penalize solar customers by changing the net-metering system, some of us will install batteries and store energy rather than send it to the utility.

What then?

A battery tax? Storm troopers breaking down my door in the middle of the night looking for batteries under the floorboards?

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South Africa’s Developing Solar Energy Landscape

Until a few years ago solar panels were a rare sight in South Africa, largely limited to the roofs of a few affluent households. This is changing rapidly, driven by three factors: the worldwide drive towards renewable energy, a highly strained local electricity supply, and a steady drop in solar panel prices.

Taking the lead from other countries, South Africa committed to an energy generation infrastructure development plan for 2010 to 2030, known as the Integrated Resource Plan. Under the plan the country aims to achieve 9600 MW of solar power capacity by 2030. When the plan was drawn up in 2010, solar was limited to a few isolated panels on domestic rooftops, and until recently contributed nothing to the national power grid operated by the state-owned utility Eskom.

But that is changing.

Solar plants are being developed, most by the private sector under a specially designed procurement program. Eskom is also constructing some facilities.

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