Who’ll stop the rain? Not me.

Not now that I know how to generate electricity from rain drops. Well, not me. But us. People. French people.  Fine, a French scientist named Jean-Jacques Chaillout. Seems he’s figured out how to harness rain to generate electricity. The key is piezoelectric materials, which are usually crystal formations that generate electricity in response to mechanical energy (i.e. movement). But  Chaillout and his colleagues at CEA/Leti-Minatec in Grenoble have struck on a special polymer that lets them harness the energy generated.  A single drizzly drop could be worth 1 microwatt of energy, and one hard downpour drop could generate 12 milliwatts, 12,000 times as much.

This sort of technology could help provide renewable electricity to places  with too much cloud cover to make practical use of solar power, but there’s a ways to go before it’s really practical. Chaillout estimates that in rainy parts of France the technology will generate 1 Watt-hour per year per square meter. Considering we typically measure electricity usage in kilowatt-hours, that’s really not much. But imagine the eventual electrical potential of Providence!

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