Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, have achieved a groundbreaking milestone by creating a solar energy capture and storage system that boasts an impressive 18-year capacity. When linked to a thermoelectric generator, this innovative system can also generate electricity on demand, opening up new possibilities for harnessing solar energy globally.

The significance of this breakthrough is profound, offering the ability to store solar energy for extended periods and transmit it globally. This stored energy can then be efficiently converted into electricity whenever needed, resulting in a self-sustaining, closed-loop system that eliminates the production of planet-warming carbon dioxide.

In a successful test, the researchers demonstrated the viability of their discovery by harvesting solar energy in Sweden and transmitting it to colleagues at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. The Shanghai team effectively converted the received solar energy into usable electricity.

Research leader Kasper Moth-Poulsen, a professor at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Chalmers, highlighted the revolutionary nature of the achievement. “This is a radically new way of generating electricity from solar energy. It means that we can use solar energy to produce electricity regardless of weather, time of day, season, or geographical location,” expressed Moth-Poulsen. He conveyed excitement about the work’s potential significance in shaping the future energy landscape.

While solar energy presents a cleaner alternative to fossil fuels, its intermittent nature, dependent on sunlight, poses challenges, especially in regions with limited sunlight. The newly developed system has the potential to overcome these limitations, making solar energy a more versatile and reliable source. The researchers envision applications extending to the replacement of electric car batteries and conventional solar cells.

Professor Moth-Poulsen emphasized ongoing efforts to enhance the system further, collaborating with various research groups involved in the project. “Together with the various research groups included in the project, we are now working to streamline the system. The amount of electricity or heat it can extract needs to be increased,” he stated.

Zhihang Wang, another researcher involved in the project, expressed optimism about the results, stating, “So far, we have only generated small amounts of electricity, but the new results show that the concept really works. It looks very promising.” The continuous refinement of this solar energy storage system holds the potential to revolutionize the global energy landscape, offering sustainable solutions for diverse applications.

By Impact Lab