An advance in solar panel material research is pointing to something that is potentially huge: solar panels that can generate electricity and Hydrogen at the same time. This is extremely important because this would increase the effective energy efficiency of the panel by generating extra energy in a clean way. Hydrogen is seen by many as the energy source of the future.
This new development is based on synthetic nano-crystals: one is rod-shaped and produces hydrogen by photo catalysis (if the panel is submerged) while the second is photovoltaic (creates electricity from light).
This is still at the research stage, however, its creators think that it is possible to market and mass-produce it. If this works, it could be a great alternative to current solar energy gathering methods. Energy storage has been particularly challenging to build clean and reliable energy. Options include using batteries, or even pumping water up behind a dam. However, creating Hydrogen sounds like a much more efficient solution, which can be done in addition to existing system. [press release]