The invention is particularly relevant for cold regions with low levels of sunlight but heavy snowfall throughout the year. When solar panels are submerged under the snow, they continue working, using static electricity to generate charges.
This is done using Snow TENG triboelectric nanogenerators: similar devices are often employed to generate energy from body movements, sensor screens or users’ footsteps.
Snow has a positive charge, so when it is rubbed against a negatively charged material, it’s possible to generate an electrical current. Scientists tested numerous materials, finally choosing silicon, due to its superior performance during testing.
The device is printed on a 3D printer, and although it doesn’t generate a large amount of electricity yet, this is an important step towards humanity’s transition to alternative energy sources.