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First Ever Invisible Solar Panels Developed by the Swiss


solarinvisLately, a lot has been said about the way solar panels look, how much space they occupy, how heavy they are on house rooftops. All of this is clearly made to show solar as being bad. Now, a Swiss firm found a way to silence the deniers by developing the first ever invisible solar panels.

The ultimate dream of every solar panel manufacturer is to build a white solar panel, simply because it is the most aesthetic choice of color there is. As wonderful as this might be, however, the idea has always been out of reach because white reflects visible light, instead of absorbing it, and therefore would defeat the purpose of conventional solar panels.

For this reason, solar panel makers have selected the black-blue combination, which has proven to be most effective when it comes to absorption of solar light. This unfortunately comes very handy to everyone, who tries to undermine the benefits of solar, by stating that the panels are ugly.

Unfortunately for them, and very fortunately for all clear thinkers, the Swiss firm SCEM (Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology) just presented their first ever invisible solar panel. The problem with color is overcome by the special technology, which makes use of the infrared light to generate power, while the visible is scattered.

This innovation allowed SCEM’s solar panels to have the chameleon effect, or to blend in with the color of the surface to which they are attached, which makes them virtually invisible. But this is not all. The crystalline silicon-based solar technology also works at much lower temperatures, simply because it does not rely on the visible light to generate heat (see demo video here).

Interestingly, some years ago, similar technology was developed by the Spanish company Intemper Espanola. Their product, Evalon Solar, however, did not received the popularity it deserves.

So, maybe SCEM’s technology will put an end to ridiculous excuses. It is also likely that they set the beginning of exciting production of a whole new line of solar-powered electronics and vehicles. We should just wait and see.

Image (c) SCEM

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  1. Well, solar panels are ugly mostly because they sit over the rooftops like a sad eyesore instead of being the rooftop, but transparent solar panels may be useful for windows, depending on how much light they let through. I thought these could be work for East or West oriented vertical windows too, to capture solar energy at sunrise or sunset, but if they work only on infrareds, there’s probably not much of them at these times of the day. So they seem to be limited to well exposed surfaces, like rooftops, and I am not sure at all they won’t be uglier than the current generation of panels. Anyway, what’s the efficiency rate? It it’s capturing only infrareds, isn’t it a very limited range of wavelengths, compared with the current developments that try to capture broader ranges?


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