Most of us are for renewable energy that doesn’t cost much, does not pollute the planet, and doesn’t incite wars to protect oil interests. Yet, many resources are not consistent or constant, which limits their effectiveness.
Solar power requires UV light, wind power needs to have breezy conditions. But what if there was an all-weather renewable energy system?
Elias Siores at the Institute for Materials Research and Innovation at the University of Bolton in the UK and his teammates have created an all-weather renewable energy system. Using flexible ribbons of a piezoelectric polymer, electricity is generated simply when a disturbance occurs, whether from wind or rain. Reportedly, the team chose polyvinylidene fluoride because in wind tunnel tests and simulated rain it deformed more, creating higher peak voltages. This results in more renewable energy generated.
The research team coated the polymer ribbons with thin film solar materials (flexible photovoltaic film) and attached a pair of electrodes with which to harvest this solar-induced current. A mere 10 cm2 of the film is able to generate 1-2 watts of electricity.
Hybrid renewable energy generators may operate best for small-scale applications at this time. Because the materials are not energy-dense, they can only be used for powering low energy devices, like cell phones. But research is continuing. Eventually, solar technology like this will be incorporated into textiles for energy-generating clothing and the like (including improved solar backpacks and other portable solar power devices).