One of the major problems with home solar panels is their size and appearance - who wants to bung a bunch of huge, ugly oblongs all over their roof? Now, imagine if the same solar cells could be built directly into the very fabric of your house. You just imagined something called "building-integrated photovoltaics" - and the technology exists right now.
Despite being such a sunkissed country, Australia is still lagging behind in the race to embrace solar power. While solar panels adorn hundreds of thousands of rooftops throughout the nation, we have not yet seen the logical next step: buildings with solar photovoltaic cells as an integral part of their structure.
Our lab is hoping to change that. We have developed solar roof tiles with solar cells integrated on their surface using a specially customised adhesive. We are now testing how they perform in Australia’s harsh temperatures.
Our preliminary test results suggest that our solar roof tiles can generate 19% more electricity than conventional solar panels. This is because the tiles can absorb heat energy more effectively than solar panels, meaning that the tiles’ surface heats up more slowly in sustained sunshine, allowing the solar cells more time to work at lower temperatures.
Current research shows that some of the most commonly used and seemingly positive phrases we use with kids are actually quite destructive. Despite our good intentions, these statements teach children to stop trusting their internal guidance system, to become deceptive, to do as little as possible, and to give up when things get hard.
I saw this open tin of stuffed vine leaves in our office fridge and immediately freaked out. I'd always been told that leaving food in an opened tin risked food poisoning, and I believed that. But then I realised I'd never bothered to question why this rule applied. Time to investigate.