Yes, I know the title looks like a juxtaposition; I mean we all know rain to be the sworn enemy of solar cells especially when they’re required to generate current. Nonetheless, here it comes:
A team of Chinese scientists have come up with an innovative way to make solar cells’ sworn enemy an ally to their cause. These researchers have created a solar cell with atom-thick graphene layer. This layer is said can harvest energy from raindrops, making the production of electricity possible even in the rainy days.
Now, the geeky explanation is that water tends to stick on graphene and creates something like a natural capacitor if you will. The graphene’s electrons have a sharp energy difference between them, so much so that the water’s ions generate current and voila; we beget electricity!
However, this is still a prototype (at beta stage), and the technology is not yet as efficient as to be a commercially viable project. It converts about 6.5% of the energy that it gets, a rate that is a far cry from the 22% energy conversion rate we get with the mainstream solar panels.
If or when these scientists figure out a way to improve the conversion rate, they will have made a dream solution a reality. Humanity would be generating (green) solar energy come rain or shine; people will no longer have to live in scorching environments to get clean energy.
Perhaps as a personal suggestion, if or when they figure out how to improve the conversion rate, there may be no need to wait on the rain drops anymore. Just have them located near water fountains that falls as water sprays to act as rain drops. Better yet, have them installed near the base of waterfalls. It would be water drops that they are after after all, won’t it? Moreover, if it so happens that the Sun still shines; the more the power to be generated.