Solar Powered Hornet Turns Sunlight Into Electricity


Similar to solar panels on a roof, the Oriental hornet has been found to convert sunlight into energy through built-in solar cells in its exoskeleton.

Solar Powered Hornets

Source from opentheworld.org

Dubbing it as an ‘animal kingdom first,’ scientists at the Tel-Aviv University in Israel made their discovery when they observed the hornets heightened activity during peak sunlight hours- inherently unusual for hornets.

So, How Does A Solar Powered Hornet Convert Light Into Energy?

Upon examining the structure of the hornet’s exoskeleton, scientists found that the insects yellow pigments trapped sunlight while the brown pigments generated electricity.

The Oriental hornet unfortunately does not run purely off solar power. In comparison to man-made solar panels that are 10-11 percent efficient, the solar powered hornet only has a solar conversion efficiency of 0.335 percent- meaning that the hornet must still get most of its energy by consuming food.

The Brown Pigmentation | Creating Electricity

Under a microscope, the brown pigmentation uncovered grooves that channeled sunlight further into the tissue.

It was also found that the hornet’s brown pigmentations contained elements of melanin. Melanin is a pigmentation found in human skin cells that protects us from damaging ultraviolet light by absorbing it and transforming it into heat.

The Yellow Pigmentation | Creating A Light Trap

The hornet’s yellow pigmentation contains xanthopterin- a substance that gives butterfly wings their colour. When xanthopterin is exposed to high levels of sunlight it begins to create electricity.

Because of this, scientists believe that other insects may also also generate solar energy.

For example, the Apollo butterfly sits in the sun before flying. Although the real reason for it to do this is unknown, many predict it is because it is absorbing solar radiation.

If A Hornet Can Go Solar Then You Can Too!

How To Get Solar PanelsUnlike a hornet, man-made solar cells are highly efficient and can power not just an insect but an entire household.

Solar power also means you can save on your energy bills, reduce your carbon footprint and increase your property value.

The best way to get the solar panels that suit you is to compare quotes from multiple, experienced CEC accredited installers in your area.

Solar Market partners with top solar installers across Australia and will match you up with 3 complimentary quotes from local solar installers in your area so you can start saving sooner.

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Understanding Batteries

Off-Grid Systems

For some households a battery system can be of great benefit and minimise a home’s reliance on the grid. However, it’s important to understand for a battery to be useful your solar system needs to be generating excess energy for the battery to store, which you can then use at night or when the sun is not out.

When selecting a battery, you’ll want to invest in a system that is most suited to your home and can drive the best return on investment (ROI). Despite a larger upfront cost, a higher quality battery may significantly increase your ROI.

    Battery systems start from $6,000 and costs can vary greatly based on the following factors:

  1. Cycle Life-Time

    The number of times a battery can fully charge and discharge.

  2. Battery Power (kW)

    How fast it can be charged or discharged.

  3. Storage Capacity (kWh)

    The maximum amount of energy a battery system can store.

  4. Battery Management System (BMS)

    An electronic ‘smart’ system that gathers data and manages the battery ensuring it does not overload or operate outside of its safe functioning zone..

  5. Inverter

    Battery systems require their own inverter if your solar system does not have a hybrid inverter.

  6. 'All-In-One Unit’

    A system which includes the battery, BMS and an inverter all in one unit.

  7. Warranty

    Length of time or cycles the battery system is under guarantee.

  8. Blackout Protection/Backup

    It’s important to note this is not a common feature of a battery system and could cost thousands of dollars to include. Blackout protection not only requires additional components but also a specialised installation and rewiring. For grid-connected homes, the cost for blackout protection can outweigh the benefit.

Additionally, if your purpose for adding battery is to go Off-Grid and become completely independent from the grid you will need to ensure your solar system can generate enough energy to power your home and your battery system is large enough to store this energy. For homes in metro areas going Off-grid is not cost effective and is only recommended for those in remote areas with limited access to the grid. Off-grid solar systems with battery start at approximately $30,000.

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