Soochow University develops solar panel that can store energy generated from rain drops
Researchers at Soochow University, located in Suzhou in China’s Jiangsu Province, have developed a solar panel that can generate power from raindrops.
The technology is now able to tackle one of solar power’s biggest problems – bad weather.
The device uses two layers of transparent polymer placed on top of a solar photovoltaic (PV) cell.
The friction of rain drops slipping on the device’s surface creates a static electricity charge.
“Our device can always generate electricity in any daytime weather,” stated Baoquan Sun, Professor at Soochow University, the Guardian reported.
“In addition, this device even provides electricity at night if there is rain,” he added.
The technology is not the first of its kind, with other researchers having created similar solar devices, referred to as triboelectric nanogenerators.
However, Soochow University’s project is the most simple and efficient, with one polymer layer becoming an electrode for both the solar cell and the triboelectric nanogenerators.
“Due to our unique device design, it becomes a lightweight device,” Sun continued.
“In future, we are exploring integrating these into mobile and flexible devices, such as electronic clothes. However, the output power efficiency needs to be further improved before practical application.”
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.