Building-integrated solar photovoltaic modules are fast catching up in the rapidly evolving construction business where emphasis on energy efficiency and self-reliance are becoming increasingly popular.
The Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM) recently announced that it has created white solar PV modules which would be apt for use in buildings and may offer applications in several other consumer-centered sectors. Conventional solar PV modules are blue or black in colour, which may adversely impact the aesthetics of a building. The dark colour of the modules comes from the cells and electrical connections within the module. The dark colour also helps in greater absorption of solar radiation.
The technology developed by CSEM uses a scattering filter to produce white light while allowing the infrared radiation to pass through to the solar cells. This technology can be used to modify any crystalline solar PV module to produce white or coloured modules.
Additionally, the scattering filter can be applied to already installed modules or integrated into the modules during the manufacturing phase. Integration of this technique into the assembly line would help module manufacturers widen their product portfolio.
Coloured solar modules can be used in laptops, mobiles, tablet computers, cars, and several other consumer products. Rumours of an iPhone equipped with solar cells have been prevalent for years now; this technology may finally help mobile manufacturers achieve this goal without compromising on the looks of the device.
Companies with large office spaces are looking at building-integrated PV modules as a promising technology to reduce dependence of grid electricity and reduce their carbon footprint. With companies and even households around the world pushing for integration of renewable energy and energy efficiency systems within their infrastructure, this new technology could help give the BI-PV industry the push it requires.
However, what it often comes down to is cost per kWh of electricity produced. BIPV products such as these are really nothing new. They’ve been around for ages. They still have only a small market because they just aren’t as competitive as conventional PV. Will something change with these new white solar modules? I’m not holding my breath.
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Image Credit: CSEM
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