Solar panel technologies have been around for decades, always improving in efficiency and power capabilities, but are they “cool” enough?
Visionary Elon Musk, the force behind Tesla Motors electric vehicles, SolarCity solar panel and power systems, and the Tesla Gigafactory, the force behind them all, has been moving these technologies ahead, in spite of the fact that profit in these areas is somewhat inconsequential. Silevo, a California-based solar panel startup, has in development solar power technology that could be as much as 24% efficient, but funding is a dear need in any of these startups. In acquiring Silevo, Elon Musk’s significant funding could push this new technology into the future. A new plant, planned for New York State, could produce millions of gigawatts of solar power capacity per year at a profitable margin.
In a conference call after the Silevo announcement, Elon Musk said, perhaps in passing, that SolarCity would make “cool-looking” solar panels that people would actually want to put on their homes. I’m wondering, then, solar panels looking “cool” or not, is that why residential solar power is lagging? Personally, if anything says 21st Century, modern, clean, and “cool,” solar panels would fit the bill. Are solar panels “cool” enough for you and me, the regular folks that want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and take advantage of a source of renewable energy as unlimited as the sun?
There are a number of solar panel designs, but if efficiency is key, then there are but a few that we could choose from to put on the roof of a house or business. Could they be “improved” somehow? Perhaps they could be made to look more like household building materials, such as roofing tiles or siding, but there are only so many things that can be done to make them “not” look like solar panels. There’s only two things that could make solar panels more attractive, in my opinion, and that would be to make them more affordable and back them up with rechargeable battery packs.
Photo credit: jurvetson