A smartphone app that may help increase the efficiency of solar cells by up to 40 per cent has been developed by a young researcher in Canada and is being used in more than 130 countries.
The Simply Solar app helps find out when solar panels are facing the most effective direction and works using a combination of Global Positioning System (GPS) and the built-in compass in smartphones.
Bruce Gao, who is now 22, developed the smartphone app as a high school student.
Users place their phones on top of the solar panels, and the app shows them when the panels are facing the most effective direction. The app is now used in more than 130 countries, ‘the Star’ reported.
“Pointing solar panels in the right direction can make them up to 40 per cent more effective,” said Gao, who is in his second year of medical school at the University of Calgary in Canada.
He got the idea to create the app when he visited an orphanage in China where he saw children huddled together in beds to share body heat.
It was monsoon season, and it was cold. There was heating in the building, but the solar panels meant to provide electricity were not installed to their full capacity.
He then researched how solar panels should be positioned to soak up the most energy and decided to develop the app.