Solar Power Innovations
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Innovative new ways to generate solar power

Harness the power of the sun beyond roof panels with new inventions for the home

By Jason Podesta | 10 November 2022

As a renewable energy, solar power is an important part of the UN’s path to net zero and sustainable development goals. The most popular method of harnessing the sun’s power in the UK is rooftop solar panels, but they are not suitable for all homes and permission can sometimes be rejected by the Local Planning Authority.

Barcelona installed the world’s first solar panelled walkway in 2021 and the Netherlands created a solar power-storing cycle path, but are there any new ways to harness the power of the sun for homeowners? Take a look at some of the latest solar power innovations.

Photovoltaic roof panels on a tiled roof

Photovoltaic roof panels. Photo: Wirestock/Adobe

Solar-power canopies

Solar canopies and carports are great for bus stops and car parks, but smaller versions can work for home drives and gardens and can supply added solar power to your home and car. Some companies provide the option for a solar pergola, provided that your garden is exposed to enough sunlight. Gallery Kitchen Design offers a great range of residential canopies.

A residential solar carport

A residential solar carport. Photo: Marina Lohrbach/Adobe

Solar thermal

These heating systems typically use solar energy to heat liquid or air, transferring the heat into a storage system or directly into the home. A back-up system will provide additional heat. Liquid systems are most appropriate for domestic central heating. This system can even provide an alternative for your underfloor heating. The Renewable Energy Centre provides a detailed explanation of the process.

Solar collectors facing south-east or south-west, at an angle of 20-50 degrees, will give the best performance. An east or west-facing panel can still be worthwhile, but needs to be about 20% bigger.

A solar thermal system costs around £3,000-6,000, all parts and installation included in the price. MCS Certified specialises in finding qualified tradesmen who specialise in fitting green and solar energy systems. Solar Thermal UK provides a great range of solar heating options.

Solar vacuum thermal heating system. Photo: Solar Thermal UK

Solar vacuum thermal heating system. Photo: Solar Thermal UK

Solar-power balcony railings

Solar-power balcony railings are available in various colours or semi-transparent glass or terracotta. They can also be tilted to maximise sun absorption. Size, shape, thickness and weight – even the arrangement of the cells – can be distributed to make bespoke patterns. Balconette offers the various options and give a quote for your choices.

Solar cell balconies in Denmark. Photo: Ricochet64/Adobe

Solar cell balconies in Denmark. Photo: Ricochet64/Adobe

Ground-mounted solar panels

If roof panels are not an option for your home, ground-fixed solar panels could be the solution. These come in two types: ground-mounted solar panels are driven into the ground and held at a fixed angle, but can be adjusted for maximum sun exposure; and pole-mounted, which automatically adjust to tilt toward the sunlight. Try Dragons Breath Solar for a varied range, as well as battery storage systems.

Ground Solar Panel

Ground-mounted solar panels. Photo: Solar Thermal UK

Dye sensitised solar cells

A scientific team in Switzerland recently broke the efficiency record for dye sensitised solar cells (DSCs), which harvest light from the entire visible light spectrum. Semi-flexible and semi-transparent, this opens up applications that are not possible with glass PV modules, paving the way for windows, greenhouses and personal devices to generate solar power.