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Glass Spheres Might Be the Future of Solar Energy

A Spanish architect has developed a spherical solar cell that, through the use of concentrating solar power, may well make flat PV panels a thing of the past.

The use of clean, sustainable energy in the form of solar power is now widespread, with solar panels seen attached to machineries from space stations to power generators. However, one thing hasn’t changed over the years: the way solar energy is harnessed.

Current solar power generators still use flat PV panels to collect the sun’s rays, and eking out more power from these solar cells is a continuous challenge for researchers and engineers.

But now, a Barcelona-based architect from a design firm called Rawlemon has developed a spherical glass solar energy generator that makes traditional PV solar panels look archaic. André Broessel calls his creation the βeta torics or β. torics system. This solar energy system uses a spherical glass ball filled with water as a lens to focus the sun’s rays into a beam of solar energy.

Photo Credit: Design Boom

Traditional solar panels stay in one place, so they can’t capture the maximum amount of sunlight as the sun moves through the day, and they stop working after sunset. But Broessel has taken care of both problems with his design. His glass ball solar energy generator tracks sunlight, and can even gain energy at night by capturing sunlight reflected off the moon.

Solar trackers have been around for years, but most have dual-axis designs that need to be mounted on the ground, while Broessel’s ball-shaped design can be installed on inclined vertical surfaces like roofs and walls.

He claims that the combination of its ability to harness concentrated sunlight and the improved efficiency of its solar tracking design means the β. torics system can  concentrate sunlight up to 10,000 times its original strength and is 35 percent more efficient than traditional solar panels.

This may not be the first foray into concentrated photovoltaics, but it is likely considered one of the most aesthetically pleasing. Currently, the devices are just prototypes, and there is no official announcement on when it will be available on the market.


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