27 August 2020 | Reading 6 mins.

Refining the sun

Pedro Mas Abellán
Holographics Expert
A novel holographic technology offers new possibilities for the largest source of energy on the planet – the Sun. Learn how the radical concept of solar refining is bringing the power of the sun to new horizons with the potential to deliver significant, immediate benefits.

From fueling the photosynthetic cycles that provide essential nutrients for all living species, to shaping seasons and individual biorhythms, the Sun is the original energy source for life as we know it. It is also the largest, most immediate source of energy. Sunlight provides by far the largest of all carbon-neutral energy sources. More energy from sunlight strikes the Earth in one hour (4.3 × 1020 J) than all the energy consumed on the planet in a year (4.1 × 1020 J).

Solar energy is a reputable renewable energy that can be harnessed either through photovoltaics (PV) that convert sunlight into electricity or through solar thermal technology that uses sunlight to generate thermal energy. However, traditional sun management systems are largely binary in that they operate on the availability of sunlight in its entirety. In addition, a multitude of factors can decrease the efficiency of these systems including dust and high temperature, inhibiting the luxes received from the Sun and effecting overall performance. While some concentration methods for solar systems aim to increase efficiencies, these technologies fail to take into consideration that these systems do not need the entire spectrum for them to be effective. In fact, concentrating the whole spectrum actually decreases the efficiency of solar units, showing the clear need and benefit for filtering out unnecessary solar radiation.

THREE HOLOGRAMS OVER A BED OF FLOWERS. PHOTO: PEDRO MAS ABELLÁN

In fact, many applications do not require the whole spectrum of sunlight. This is not only the case for operating solar panels, but also holds true for the plants we grow in our greenhouses, to the very sunlight that brightens our homes, fields and industries. What if we could split the spectrum of the sun to utilize its most efficient parts per application – filtering out the harmful or unnecessary components? Better yet, what if we could concentrate, re-direct and filter out the spectrum needed for each application, having an even greater impact that could empower individuals and the energy transition? Holographics are the answer.

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