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    December 02, 2016 | 9:50 AM

    Forecast for Solar Technology: Sunny Days Ahead

    We’ve come a very long way since a calculator was the coolest thing you knew was solar-powered. Over the past 40 years, the price of solar energy has dropped by more than 99 percent. And with new technologies and programs encouraging the use of solar announced what seems like daily, it’s never been easier to embrace.

    Check out these cool new innovations in solar technology, then download our Make It a Reality action kit to learn how you can help build a clean energy future! 

    Solar Roofs

    Just last month, Tesla and Solar City released a very powerful roof! The solar roof tiles are made of durable, long-lasting tempered glass and power homes with clean, renewable energy in a way that is largely invisible to the naked eye. Best of all: the company’s CEO, Elon Musk, has said that the new solar roofs will actually cost less to manufacture and install than a traditional roof—even before savings from the power bill. “Electricity,” he said, “is just a bonus.” And it looks like these tiles will come in various designs, too, so your roof can be super-efficient and stylish.

    Learn more: Solar Is Booming as Its Costs Keep Falling

    Iluméxico + Sembrando Luz

    For many rural communities in Central and South America, accessing the national electric grid has proven difficult and often impossible. However, many remote communities are now discovering that they can generate energy themselves – by harnessing the power of the sun. Several small, off-grid solar organizations, like Iluméxico in Mexico and Fundelec’s Sembrando Luz program in Venezuela, are empowering rural families by training local people to work in solar distribution to provide access to electricity. And since many of these countries have set ambitious renewable energy targets, every solar panel is a step in the right direction!

    Solar Roads

     

     

    Glass panels that could replace the asphalt and concrete we normally drive and walk on could be the future of the solar industry. According to the owner of Solar Roadways, if we replaced all the paved roads and paths in the US with solar road panels, we could generate three times the country’s energy needs. The US Department of Transportation has gotten on board with a handful of R&D contracts, and countries like the Netherlands, Germany, and France are already hitching a ride down the solar road, too.

    Solar Car

    If you were wondering what might be driving down these new solar roads, perhaps you envisioned a solar-powered car? The technology initially took off from racing competitions such as the World Solar Challenge, a competition to design, build, and drive solar-powered cars in a cross-country race, and recently, the first completely solar car design for normal travel (everyday use instead of just for racing) was released. These cars certainly look futuristic, but they show how solar-powered vehicles are becoming capable of competing head-on with conventional vehicles today.

    Read more: Five Major Businesses Powered by Renewable Energy

    Floating Solar

     

    In the years since the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2011, Japan has been working hard to develop alternative renewable energy sources like solar. But since the country is a bit tight on space, the next logical step was to create floating solar farms.

    (And if you’re looking to indulge your inner hipster, there’s no shortage of tutorials on how to create your own solar-powered mason jar lanterns to light up your next picnic.)

    The Future of Solar is Looking Bright

    But we need people like you to keep standing up for climate solutions. Here are three things you can do right now to take action and help solve the climate crisis:

    1. Make sure the Senate knows you oppose the president-elect’s cabinet nominees. Because we deserve leaders who will deliver clean energy solutions and fight for our health, not Big Oil insiders and climate deniers. 

    2. Download our free Make It a Reality action kit. We break down the science of climate change and explain how you can get involved in the climate movement – right now.

    3. Make a gift to The Climate Reality Project, because from now until December 31, your gift will be doubled by a generous supporter. We’ll use your donation to challenge climate denial and fight for a bright, sustainable future for our planet.

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