Solar panels are an essential component of the clean energy revolution.
However, they have one major flaw: when the clouds move in, their productivity plummets.
An electrical engineering student at Mapua University has invented a new form of solar panel that captures the invisible ultraviolet light from the sun that makes it through even dense cloud covers.
Carvey Ehren Maigue, who won the James Dyson Sustainability Award for his invention in 2020, expects it can soon be deployed on enormous building windows and walls, transforming them into constant sources of energy.
Solar panels that do not require direct sunlight
The AuREUS (Aurora Renewable Energy and UV Sequestration) concept employs luminescent particles derived from fruit and vegetable waste to absorb UV radiation and convert it to visible light. The visible light is then converted into electricity by a solar film.
“It’s similar to how we breathe in oxygen and we exhale carbon dioxide,” Maigue said. “It takes in ultraviolet light, and then after some time it would shed it as visible light.”
Maigue’s AuREUS prototype is a single 3-by-2-foot lime green-tinted panel that he mounted in his apartment window. In his James Dyson Award demonstration, he demonstrated that his test panel can generate enough electricity to charge two phones every day. When scaled up, these panels, according to Maigue, would allow buildings to run fully on their own electricity.
Renewable energy democratization
According to the developer, the material’s adaptability — the resin can even be applied to fabric for clothes — allows designers to employ the panels in a range of various, inventive forms that could help more people comprehend and adopt green energy solutions.
“If we can democratize renewable energy, we can bring it both physically closer to people as well as psychologically closer,” Maigue explained. “It would give them a sense of access to it, that they are closer to it, that they don’t have to be large institutions that have the capability to harvest solar energy with their rooftops.”
Maigue’s next step is to create his first AuREUS building installation at a small medical facility on the Philippine island of Jomalig, which is frequently left without power during storms.
With this invention, the future appears to be more colourful. It’s not just vibrant, but it’s also functional. It might even be used for nearly everything that requires energy, such as smartphones, EVs, houses, buildings, and factories.