Most of us think of solar energy as rows of solar panels sitting in a field, collecting energy. Some of us know about (or may even have) solar panels on a portion of our roofs, keeping our energy costs down. But here are some examples of where the solar industry is going:

1. Solar Trees: They work like real trees, with solar panels as ‘leaves’ that collect the sunlight to use as energy. They are said to use 100 times less space to produce the same amount of energy as the panels they hold.

2. Advanced Solar Materials: Beyond silicone, researchers are developing new materials that will be more efficient while costing less. Some are PERC cells that add later to the back of a cell, improving output; Tandem Cells that stack upon each other and convert different bands of light; and Perovskites that are made from minerals that are easier to produce.

3. Double-Sided Cells: These gather the reflected light from the surface below, adding up to 20% more efficiency.

4. Solar Roofs: Now, in the third generation of design, a home’s full roof is made up of solar panels. Prices are beginning to dip below the cost of a new roof plus solar panels.

5. Floating Solar: Solar panels are taking to the water. South Korea is set to build the largest floating solar installation soon. And a dairy farm in Rotterdam combined its floating solar installation with a dairy farm, creating a zero-emission floating installation.

6. Agrophotovoltaics: By placing solar panels over crops, the land is being used in the most efficient way. Researchers at Oregon State University have determined that covering just 1% of the world’s farmland would be enough to meet humanity’s energy needs.

Get on board the solar wave and see how today’s solar can save on your energy costs!