As part of our environment, adopting its essence without changing it.
We can consider the second half of the 20th century as a time of exuberant scale regarding energy. Scale is associated to impact: visual, social, demographical or environmental. Energy has been generated in large plants that, although they are usually located far away from cities, need large areas to be constructed. The energy produced in these plants is transmitted through high voltage electrical lines that have been part of our landscapes for years.
Even though distributed generation starts to show as a change of paradigm, technological developments have been centred in the reduction of the cost of energy. However, as the cost of energy lowers, projects face other requirements. Architects, engineers and scientists are working in different levels to go a step further: to camouflage generation sources into the environment and try to make the transmission of energy invisible.
Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) has been a reality for decades. However, related technologies are constantly evolving looking for more functional, economical and efficient solutions that can be disguised in the environment. Highly transparent solar cells are one of these innovative solutions. In this line, researchers from the Michigan State University have developed a luminescent solar concentrator that can generate energy without hampering the view. This solution is at its early stage of development but could be implemented in a future in windows of buildings, vehicles or screens of electronic devices such as mobile phones.
Other applications that transmit energy in an imperceptible way are already a reality. The company WiTricity commercialises wireless technology to transmit electrical power based on the resonant coupling of two devices, according to Massachusetts Technological Institute (MIT). It can be apply to the recharge of EVs, the recharge of electronic devices such as laptops and mobile phones and the medical and military industries. Can you imagine a world with wireless and ubiquitous electricity supply?
We will deal with this and other disruptive technologies in our blog in 2018.