While the overwhelming majority of solar panels today are shades of black or blue, numerous companies are working to make a new generation of solar cells and modules that aren’t black. These include transparent solar panels and colored panels. Once companies are able to realize these technologies they could vastly increase the applicable spaces for solar panels. Now the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM) has announced that it has developed the world’s first white solar modules.
“This innovative technology is particularly attractive to the building industry where solar elements can blend into a building's skin and become virtually hidden energy sources,” the company said. Indeed a white or otherwise colored solar panel could seem invisible and when that happens it could increase the adoption of solar power.
The current mainstream technologies behind PV panels produce modules that are generally dark blue or black because they can absorb more sunlight than other colors. The new technology from CSEM is used to absorb infrared light. As such the panels can be designed to allow other forms of light to reflect from the surface without impacting the performance of the solar panel.
The company said that any solar technology based on crystalline silicon can now be used to manufacture white or colored PV modules with its technology. “The technology can be applied on top of an existing module or integrated into a new module during assembly, on flat or curved surfaces. Besides its main application in BIPV, other fields such as consumer electronics (laptops) and the car industry are expected to show significant interest.”
Another unique factor behind creating a white solar panel is that it will not heat up like a dark PV panel does. “The visible light being reflected does not contribute to heat, thus a white solar cell is expected to work at temperatures 20-30° C lower than standard PV modules,” the company contended.
Looking ahead such technology could be used not only in building integrated photovoltaics (BIPVs) but also in personal devices like smart phones and tablets. As such many companies are showing interest in using solar technologies in their devices. This includes companies like Apple, which has filed numerous patents for solar integration into its devices.Tweet