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Radical Solar Technology Breakthrough: Capturing and Storing Sunshine

Source: UTC

Swedish researchers recently achieved a major renewable energy milestone: a system to store sunlight and convert it into on-demand electricity. This discovery could solve solar power intermittency.

New System Stores Sunlight-Like Photosynthesis

The Chalmers University team developed technology mimicking plant photosynthesis to harness solar energy. It uses sunlight to generate chemical bonds able to persist for years storing that captured solar power. This breakthrough addresses solar limitations for real-world reliability.

Source: Flickr/r stutts

The system absorbs photons like chlorophyll and then converts them into molecular “solar fuel”, allowing renewable energy to be stockpiled long-term for human applications. It’s effectively a way to sustainably “bottle” sunshine.

Solar Energy Stored Over 95% Efficiently

In experiments, over 95% of solar energy added into molecular bonds persisted even after 18 years of storage. This demonstrates an exceptional efficiency level compared to existing methods like batteries or hydrogen conversion.

Source: Flickr/Best Solar Panel Brands

The team notes their solar reservoir retains harvested sunshine in a closed, indefinitely sustainable process. Eventual optimization aims for indefinite storage durations to enable renewable energy all year.

On-Demand Electricity from Stored Sunlight

Connecting their solar storage to a thermoelectric generator, the researchers successfully produced electricity on demand after 18 years of darkness. This system could provide renewable energy anytime, without grid connections.

Source: Flickr/Tambako The Jaguar

Their stored sunshine can generate usable heat and power independent of weather, seasons, location, or time of day. It fulfills solar power’s promise free from daily cycles of light and darkness.

Closed Loop Design is Carbon-emission-free

The technology operates emissions-free in a closed sustainable loop: absorbing sunlight, storing energy in molecular bonds, and then discharging heat and electricity on demand. This clean circular flow avoids any atmospheric pollution.

Source: Flickr/Lima Andruska

The system design never requires extracting or burning fossil fuels that generate planet-warming greenhouse gases. As global temperatures rise, the researchers aimed for an intrinsically zero-emissions solution.

Could Reshaping the Future of Renewable Power

The researchers state this solar breakthrough may provide a reliable base layer of continuous renewable energy lacking previously. The capacity to store and discharge power indefinitely liberates solar and wind from their intermittent restraints.

Source: Flickr/Argonne National Laboratory

By overcoming the Achilles heel of intermittent generation, this solar storage technology could reshape the future landscape enabling sustainable energy to dominate grids.

Quintessential Milestone for Renewable Goals

Reaching 18 years of solar storage sets a monumental new bar for renewable advancement. Exceeding the reliability of thermal reservoirs, batteries, and hydrogen conversion proves a clarion concept: Clean energy can sustainably outlast fossil fuel permanence.

Source: Flickr/Gerry Machen

If optimized for indefinite sunlight storage, systems like this one realize the quintessential milestone to supply our world affordably and emission-free year-round. It signals the feasibility is now tangible.

Bioinspired Solar Fuel Lasts Decades

The bioinspired “solar fuel” compound at the technology’s core consists of sunlight-powered chemical bonds retaining their stored energy for extreme durations without degradation. These specialized molecules embody decades of captured solar energy.

Source: Flickr/Mr.TinMD

Kept below -328 F, the solar fuel persistently occupies a metastable state until intentionally triggered to release their embedded sunshine as usable electricity or heat.

Process Mimics Nature’s Chlorophyll

Drawing from photosynthetic plants, the technology uses choreographed chemical reactions powered by absorbed photons. Light energy excites electrons identical to the first phase of chlorophyll photosynthesis.

Source: Flickr/Anderson Mancini

This biomimicry produces resilient molecular solar bonds capable of preserving harvested sunshine far longer and more efficiently than any previous human methods.

Swedish Breakthrough, Global Implications

The researchers pioneer this solution from Sweden, with far northern solar conditions. But optimized applications could support solar dominance meeting electricity demands year-round even in darker regions.

Source: Flickr/tsaiproject

They’ve confirmed the process’s fundamental viability. Now research aims to increase yields and system efficiency while lowering costs – advancing towards mass scale-up. Where implemented, it could help phase out fossil fuels.

24-Hour Clean Energy On-Demand

Most renewable sources only generates intermittently when conditions allow. But this technology can sustainably store summer solar energy for winter discharge upon request – around-the-clock clean power.

Source: Flickr/IRENA

It liberates sustainable electricity from reliance on daily solar cycles, location, weather patterns, or seasons. The system fulfills solar’s promise free of burning inefficient fossil fuels 24/7.

Significant Milestone for Solar Concept

The group emphasizes their first electricity outputs remain modest. Yet these initial results already confirm an unprecedented advancement towards around-the-clock clean energy viability.

Source: Flickr/Ivan Radic

By far exceeding expected functional solar storage thresholds after 18 years of darkness, the evidence demonstrates an extraordinary proof-of-concept for cost-competitive renewable dominance.

Overcoming Solar Limitations

Typical solar cells only harness energy when sunlight shines on panels. Then output stops overnight. This discovery circumvents that loss, storing days or seasons of peak solar capture for weeks or winters of electric discharge still.

Source: Flickr/Brookhaven National Laboratory

Finally attaining this feat signals that solutions liberating renewables from intrinsic weather and darkness restraints now rest at our fingertips.

Looking Forward: More Heat, Less Cost

Having proven the solar longevity concept, research now focuses on optimizing the commercial viability. Goals include increasing usable heat and power yields per unit, plus scaling system economies.

Source: Flickr

If costs drop as outputs rise, such renewable energy reservoirs could out-compete traditional grid sources. It opens the door to solar dominance.

A True Solar Breakthrough – Storing Sunshine

In one clever invention, Swedish scientists may have defeated solar power’s Achilles heel: intermittency loss over darkness. Using principles from nature, their closed-loop system can harvest and store peak sunlight, retaining it as indefinitely reusable fuel. This breakthrough revelation utterly redefines what’s possible.

Source: Flickr/Skeyndor

Solar energy could finally offer 24/7 emissions-free electricity and heat on tap anywhere worldwide – fundamentally emancipated from location, weather, and even daylight itself.

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Matty Jacobson

Written by Matty Jacobson

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