- Photovoltaic solar panels are not that reliable when it comes to low light conditions.
- Researchers are creating a new state-of-the-art solar panel that can work in low-light areas.
- They are using a bacterium called E Coil, and they are using the idea of photosynthesis to create the solar panel.
- They are still trying to figure out how to keep the bacteria alive, which means the solar panel is not ready for the public.
- Once the whole process is complete, the entire universe will be ready for one of the best solar panels ever created to operate at night.
Technologically speaking, solar panels are never bulletproof. They are a technology in a process, and there is always room to improve them and have a better version. Solar panels can have a lot of setbacks associated with them, but the advantages are still seamless.
Many people tend to find a problem when using solar panels to their full capacity. Most solar panels indeed need direct sunlight to operate fully, especially the photovoltaic versions.
Sometimes it can be hard to use the solar panel to its full potential when it comes to rainy days or even during the snow season—efficiency and output production are on halt during such seasons.
The inability to operate under rainy or snowy weather is the number one setback many people face when using solar panels. Solar panels only operate to full capacity in areas experiencing sunny weather conditions most of the time.
A solar panel’s output capacity can reduce to 10% – 30% depending on the panel type. That means you will never use your solar panels to their maximum when the season is not sunny.
New Sheriff in Town
Some dedicated researchers from the University of Colombia have developed an innovative idea. They are trying to make a solar panel that can work in low light conditions without direct sunlight.
Their idea will be a game-changer in the solar industry, and we could soon even be able to have solar panels that work at night. But let us not rush. It is still a work in progress.
Let us now look at how that team of brilliant researchers managed to solve the million-dollar question. They used a bacterium, yes you heard me right.
The team found a way of using a specific strain of bacteria incorporated with the solar cells. With that creative idea, the solar panel managed to work in different lighting conditions.
The cells they are using to make that kind of solar panel are the “Biogenic solar cells.” Those researchers came up with one of the most indigenous ideas that man has ever thought of.
Using their ingenuity, they used a bacterium called the “E. coli” to produce lycopene in spades. Many of you might be familiar with the word lycopene. It is the molecule that gives tomatoes their red tint.
The number one reason they were using lycopene is that it is a natural dye, and as you may know, natural dyes are suitable for absorbing sunlight. The next thing they did with the bacteria was coating it with minerals.
Coating the E. Coil with a mineral mixture made it a semiconductor of energy. They applied a glass of water with the mixture, and before long, we had a solar panel that could operate in dim conditions.
It All Started with The Plants
Do you remember way back in kindergarten or elementary school when your teacher explained how plants use sunlight to make their food? I believe most of us can remember.
The same idea of photosynthesis is what these great researchers used to develop a solar panel. Photosynthesis is how plants convert sunlight, air, and water to help them make food.
Early researchers also tried to use biogenic cells to try and replicate the process of photosynthesis. All this while, the answer was right there before our own eyes. We can as well say that plants had the answers all along.
Renewable energy has long been with us, and it was only a matter of when the right time would come. Before we all knew it, we already had a solar panel that could harvest solar energy using biogenic cells.
But let us not get too excited so fast. The whole process is still quite revolutionary, and the study’s implications are still significant.
How Efficient Are They?
The researchers who made the solar panel with the help of biogenic solar cells did a great job. In the future, the solar panel can be compared to the photovoltaic solar panels once the whole process is complete.
It is still a work in progress, and now we cannot confidently say that they are ready for use by the public. We still do not have statistical proof that solar panels can work effectively and efficiently compared to their photovoltaic sister.
The idea of introducing the solar panel, which uses biogenic cells, can, in the future, be a big deal, and everyone will opt to use it. That is so because it will be very economical and efficient compared to photovoltaic solar panels.
It could help cities that usually experience low sunlight running their businesses, as usual, using the biogenic solar enabled panels. It will indeed be an overly exciting moment for everyone.
As the project’s lead professor once said, ” The hybrid materials used to make the solar panel will be very economical, sustainable, and very sufficient compared to the conventional solar panels.”
The better thing about using biogenic solar cells will be the production cost. Producing biogenic solar cells is extremely low compared to photovoltaic solar cells. That will only mean investing in such a solar panel will be very affordable.
Not There Yet
Many people are waiting for when the biogenic solar cells will be ready. I would say we are not yet there. The production of such biogenic cells requires bacteria.
Bacteria need nourishing so that they can be alive and live longer. But the sad truth is that bacteria are dying every day, and they are decaying. So even though we might have a reliable solar panel in the future, we need to take care of the bacteria.
But if the research team working on the whole process can find a way of keeping the bacteria alive in the glass panels, we could be ready for launch soon. They need to find a way of keeping the bacteria alive for long to produce the dye, which will then stimulate the whole process of photosynthesis.
Getting to that point only means one thing. It means finding a way to make the E Coli produce lycopene for the solar panel to run for a long time. When we achieve that, we will give thanks to the great minds behind the whole process, and we can never forget the bacteria that help keep the solar functioning.
That will mean that places like Canada, Northern Europe, the deep seas, and areas with limited sunlight will have the opportunity to enjoy electricity like other places with sunny conditions.