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Latest Solar Innovations : Solar Paint

Introduction: Solar Paint

Like a lot of technology today, innovations in solar energy are rapidly advancing in an unprecedented rate; most of them aimed at making solar power more efficient and accessible to all. One interesting innovation in solar power started about a decade ago is Photovoltaic Paint or Solar Paint.

What is Solar Paint?

Much like Solar Panels, Solar Paint collects energy from sunlight and converts it to electricity; but rather than collecting energy just from your roof, you can practically apply it to any viable surface and collect energy from there – such as building walls, even car bodies.

While solar panels are made traditional light-sensitive silicon, Solar Paint is made of “nanoparticles of titanium dioxide—which gives whiteness to sunscreen and powdered sugar. The particles are coated with semiconducting cadmium nanocrystals, and mixed with water and alcohol, to create a golden yellow paste.”* Basically, Solar Paint is comprised of countless tiny pieces of light-sensitive material mixed with flexible liquid, like an ink or paint; when sprayed on to various shapes and sizes, it turns them into energy harvesters.

Why use Solar Paint?

Solar Paint is so much cheaper to manufacture than traditional silicon-based solar panels. They are also easier to transport and use. If you can work a spray gun, you could probably spray solar paint. Solar paint can also be applied to surfaces of almost any shape or size, and to numerous surface types including plastic, fabrics, and even car bodies. **

What is the issue with Solar Paint

As of the moment, the “main issue with solar paint is that it’s not quite efficient enough to be commercially viable. Solar paint ranges anywhere from 3 to 8% of solar energy capture. Efficiency is essentially the percentage of the power of the sun’s rays that the technology can capture. If a particular type of solar paint has a 5% efficiency, that means it’s capturing only 5% of the total available sun energy. For comparison sake, traditional silicon solar panels have broken the 20% barrier. Most experts agree that a solar technology has to surpass 10% efficiency to be viable.”***

What is going on now with Solar Paint

As of this moment, it is still far off from becoming a commercially viable product. However, various university and research groups are currently working on solar paint, finding ways to increase its energy -harvesting efficiency to 10% or more.


* From Scientific American

** From New Horizon India

*** From Solar Action Alliance

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