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  • Writer's pictureLeila Souza

Researchers Show That Solar Energy Can Be Generated At Night

Updated: Sep 28, 2022

Australian researchers have demonstrated that solar panels can generate solar energy at night. According to a new study published by scientists from the University of New South Wales (UNSW), the heat that escapes the earth every night can be captured and converted into electricity.

Scientists have developed and tested a device that takes infrared heat and converts it into electrical power. During development, the team made use of a power-generation device called a “thermo-radiative diode,” which is quite similar to the technology found in night-vision goggles.

How Much Power Can Be Generated At Night?

Although the study was successful, the team only produced a very small amount of energy (about 0.001% of a solar cell). So, it’s not ready for the market yet, but at this early stage, all that matters is that the device works.

“We usually think of the emission of light as something that consumes power, but in the mid-infrared, where we are all glowing with radiant energy, we have shown that it is possible to extract electrical power,” Nicholas concludes. “We do not yet have the miracle material that will make the thermoradiative diode an everyday reality, but we made a proof of principle and are eager to see how much we can improve on this result in the coming years.(Source: Studyfinds, 2022)”

What Does Night-Time Solar Means For the Australian Solar PV Market?

Although we are one of the world's biggest adopters of rooftop solar. Since 2001, the number of customers with solar panels has ballooned to more than 3 million. And in 2021, there was a record uptake of more than 3,000MW of rooftop solar installed by Australian householders.

Coal is still the primary source of electricity in Australia, being responsible for about 75 per cent of our electricity generation, followed by gas (16 per cent), hydro (5 per cent) and wind around (2 per cent) (Source: Geoscience Australia).

Night-time solar could represent an opportunity for Australia to be less dependent on non-renewable sources of energy. “This could mean being able to achieve the ultimate dream of renewable energy: power generation uninterrupted by the setting of the sun,” the researchers declared.

The study was published in ACS Photonics.



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