Frank Gehry As Solar Power Developer? Paint-On Solar Steel Could Be Here in Three Years

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photo: Chet Yeary II

If Corus Group, an Anglo-Dutch steel manufacturer, has its way and their new work into developing solar cell paint comes to pass, the whole concept of what types of material can be used for generate electricity through photovoltaics could change. At least that's the promise. Renewable Energy World is saying that production on Corus' solar steel sheets could begin in three years, though doesn't really go beyond that in terms of timelines. The way it would work is this:Four Coats Applied During Manufacturing
The photovoltaic paint consists of a layer of dye and a layer of electrolytes. This would get applied to the steel as one of four coats of paint: an undercoat, a layer of dye-sensitized solar cells, a layer of electrolyte or titanium dioxide, and finally a protective coating.The whole process would take place as the steel sheets get passed through rollers as they are manufactured. (REW)

paint-on solar steel panels photo
If All of Corus' Steel Was Used...
The original article extrapolates on Corus' annual production of 100 million square meters of steel sheets to say that if all of this were "given a lick of solar paint" that it total it could have a potential capacity of 9000 GW, at an assumed efficiency for the solar paint of 11%.

At Least a Coupld of Questions Remain...
That's not the only assumption in that calculation: It also assumes that all of that steel will be used in locations and for applications suitable for generating solar power. Additionally, even with a protective coating applied to the steel, the durability of the surface could come into question. And unless a method of reapplying the paint post-manufacturing is developed, then the lifetime of the product might be shorter than desired.

I'm sure Corus is considering these limiting variables, and I don't mean to sound down on this—the idea of just painting on solar cells is pretty great—but at this point I wouldn't be jumping up and down joyfully thinking that Frank Gehry's latest steel-clad creation could soon do double duty as a power plant.

via :: Renewable Energy World
second image: Corus Group
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