A Green Solution

Reality is often unrealistic. Sometimes events unfold that, if they appeared in a film or TV production, would be mocked by audiences as contrite or heavy-handed. Fiction has to make sense, whereas reality can do whatever it wants and you don’t get a say in the matter.

So I find it far from unexpected that one of the issues plaguing the solar panel industry has such a fittingly symbolic solution.

A problem with solar panels is that as they heat up beyond 25°C, their efficiency decreases markedly. If you remember anything from your physics class, you will remember that this is the case for all electronics; resistance increases with temperature. Conventional coolant systems are unlikely to be practical; maintenance is already a significant barrier to the adoption of solar power. So how else are we going to solve this problem? Well, it seems nature herself is ready to lend some assistance!

Nature finds a way

Research done by the University of Technology Sydney has shown that the addition of plant life around solar panels has the ability to moderate rooftop temperatures. Their research compared two roofs—one with plants and one without. The green roof supported much more biodiversity, as one might expect. By reducing average maximum temperatures by about 8°C, it increased solar generation by as much as 107% during peak periods. And while some plant species outperformed others, the vegetation flourished.

A Green Solution

Such a solution would thus not only offset some of the prohibitive drawbacks of solar panels, but would in effect increase biodiversity in developed areas such as cities where it is most needed.

Thus, we will not have to sacrifice the land’s natural beauty for the sake of our energy needs.

Additional perks to biosolar roofs 

These “biosolar” roofs also have the benefit of cooling the building they’re built on as well as reducing water runoff. The more I read about this, the more it feels like it is only natural for all buildings to accommodate some extra greenery. It also has the added benefit of just looking very pretty, but that might just be me.

When it comes to equipping buildings with solar power, adding a touch of greenery around the panels appears to be a solution devoid of downsides. While solar farms may require alternative cooling methods, the urban landscape could benefit from increased green spaces nearly as much as it does from renewable energy.

I could be making this out to be more romantic or poetic than it actually is, but the writer in me can’t help but see it as nature herself showing her appreciation for our efforts to help her recover after all that our development has caused. And I simply cannot banish that idea.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stawie is a tech-loving young optimist, intrigued by the mysteries of what lies ahead.

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