Engineers have designed a new type of solar panel that can produce electricity at night. The innovative design relies on the change in temperature once the sun goes down to absorb more energy.

Source: Rajamanickam Antonimuthu/Youtube

Solar energy is an amazing source of renewable energy, and these night-time solar panels solve the main problem with solar power: they can only work with sunlight. According to the U.S. Solar Energy Technologies Office, the amount of sun that hits the Earth’s surface in just an hour and a half is enough to handle the planet’s energy consumption for a whole year, reported Newsweek.

Solar panels use photovoltaic cells to absorb energy from the sun and turn it into electrical current, but until now, there has been no way to harness the sun’s energy once the sun goes down. Scientists have tried many times to make something that can be used when it’s dark out but using sources like batteries can be expensive and inefficient.

The new model works by generating electricity from the temperature difference between the photovoltaic cells of the solar panel and the air. There is a constant flow of radiative heat from the Earth to space because the atmosphere cannot keep it all in. When heat flows from a hot source to a cold one, it generates energy.

Source: TED-Ed/Youtube

The materials used to make the photovoltaic cells become colder than the surrounding air at night since they radiate heat well. This temperature difference could be the key to constantly producing energy from panels!

Work still needs to be done to make these panels as efficient as possible, but this is a revolutionary discovery and a way for us to continue to move away from fossil fuels. Scientists have been warning for years about the dangers of burning fossil fuels. There are devastating consequences to the environment and the air we breathe. These advances and discoveries in solar could be a step in the right direction of moving away from fossil fuels and towards a sustainable and renewable future!

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