Update (May 2011): a new type of semi-transparent, colored solar panels that can be used in place of windows, roofs, and walls has been developed by Qsolar.
They’re also usually silver. Yet they also come in colors, not just for looks, but for efficiency.
A Jerusalem company called GreenSun has developed bright-colored panels. Officials say the hues capture different parts of sun’s spectrum, and don’t need direct sunlight to work, according to National Geographic News.
The colored collectors are still in development, but the company says its panels will cost less than a buck per watt to manufacture, compared to more than $4 a watt for conventional solar.
The technology is based on concentrating visible and ultraviolet light without concentrating heat, which reduces the performance of conventional cells. GreenSun also says its panels only require 20 percent silicon, with a conversion rate of up to 20 percent, or up to twice as much as commercial panels now on the market.
The secret is the edges, The Economist explains.
“Traditional solar cells are made of thin sheets of the element covered by glass plates. In GreenSun’s cells, though, only the outer edges of the glass plates are covered by silicon, in the form of thin strips. The trick is to get the light falling on the glass to diffuse sideways to the edges, so that the silicon can turn it into electricity.”
GreenSun does this this by coating the glass “with a combination of dyes and sprinkling it with nanoparticles of a metal whose nature they are not yet willing to disclose,” according to the report.
If this works, it could brighten up the solar market in more ways than one.
(Image Credit: GreenSun Energy)