White Solar Panels Could Blend in With Buildings, Cool Them Down

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There has been a lot of effort over the past decade or so to develop transparent solar cells that can be used in see-through solar panels. Those panels could replace windows in large buildings or be an unnoticeable addition to a roof, but what about solar panels that could be integrated into the walls of buildings?

CSEM, a Swiss non-profit technology company, has come up with a technology that lets solar panels do just that. Researchers with CSEM have developed solar panels that can come in different colors and have no visible connections, which gives architects a lot of room to incorporate solar power into buildings without having to give up any aesthetic goals.

The researchers have focused on white solar panels, not just because of the versatility of the color, but because white solar panels would stay cooler, which boosts their efficiency, and using them over large sections like the roof would keep the buildings themselves cooler, which would reduce the energy demand of cooling buildings.

The technology consists of a colored plastic layer that goes over the panel. This layer acts as a scattering filter that reflects all visible light, yet lets in infrared rays. It can be used with any existing crystalline silicon solar cell technology.

CSEM says, "Our revolutionary technology lets us achieve what was supposed to be impossible: white and colored solar panels with no visible cells or connections. It can be applied on top of an existing module or integrated into a new module during assembly, on flat or curved surfaces. We can change the color of all existing panels or create customized looks from scratch. Solar panels can now disappear; they become virtually hidden energy sources."