Solar panels generate electricity during the day by converting sunlight into energy using photovoltaic cells. But what if solar panels could also generate electricity at night? Believe it or not, researchers at UC Davis say they are working on just that. Anti-solar panels generate about 25% of the power that solar panels do during the day by converting heat from the Earth into electricity as it escapes the Earth and heads up into the coldness of outer space.
How the nighttime anti-solar panels work
The nighttime panels work by radiating heat towards outer space. It is the difference between the relative warmth of the panel and the coldness of outer space that allows these panels to generate current. Anti-solar panels will work in all weather conditions and in all seasons too because outer space is extremely cold.
The panels referred to as thermoradiative panels (as opposed to regular solar panels, which are called photovoltaic panels) work because outer space is always going to be colder than the panel. That temperature difference causes electrons within the semiconductors that panel is made of to get knocked loose. Those loose electrons then become electrical current. It is the exact same process used by ordinary solar panels to extract energy from sunlight except that it works in reverse.
Anti-solar panels could be combined with solar panels
The anti-solar panels are made of a thin film of semiconducting material. Furthermore, the panels are flexible. Thanks to their flexibility, the panels can be rolled out over existing solar panels at night and rolled back up during the day. This would lead to a system that produces power 24 hours per day. The best news of all is that this new technology would be able to be added to existing solar systems. Thus solar system owners would be able to take advantage of this technology should it reach the market.
Nighttime panels are still a prototype technology
The prototypes currently generate only small amounts of power, but the researchers believe that they will ultimately be able to generate about 50 watts per square meter of panel surface.
Start generating your own power today with Freedom Forever
It will be a few years before these nighttime panels are efficient and reliable enough to be ready for consumers. But you can get energy from the sun to power your home right now with a Freedom Forever solar system. You can count on a Freedom Forever solar system to generate reliable power because we guarantee the reliable power output of our systems with Freedom’s 25-year performance guarantee.