As it is widely known, the two biggest sources of renewable energy — wind and solar power — are “dispatchable”, which means they cannot be turned on and off, according to the grid’s needs. They don’t adjust to the grid; the grid adjusts to them.
A new breakthrough in clean energy, however, could change everything. A new “anti-solar panel” could be able to bridge the gap left by solar energy, collecting energy from the night sky. The thermoelectric generator-based device, developed by a team of researchers at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, harnesses the variance in temperature between Earth and outer space, by using a passive cooling mechanism known as radiative sky cooling to maintain the cold side of a thermoelectric generator several degrees below ambient.
So far, the device has only been tested at a very small scale. The small test successfully created enough energy to power a single small LED lightbulb — a small success with immeasurably massive potential.
As ScienceNews reports, “A bigger version of this nighttime generator could someday light rooms, charge phones or power other electronics in remote or low-resource areas that lack electricity at night when solar panels don’t work.”