Spray-on solar

Green Lifestyle

This new invention may be the answer to making solar power much more affordable.


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Research scientists at the University of Sheffield have recently developed a technique to make solar panels even more efficient with the creation of spray-on solar cells.

With further research and development, this technology may one day replace traditional bulky solar cells with a spray can.

The current solar power market is being handicapped by the cost of solar power production and solar technology’s lack of efficiency – but this new invention may be the answer to making solar power an inexpensive alternative to non-renewable power sources.

Researchers on the spray-on solar project are using perovskite, which is almost as efficient as silicon, but is cheaper and easier to make. It is also more eco-friendly than conventional methods of producing solar panels as the process does not produce toxic residues.

Silicon is the main component of conventional solar cells, but it takes huge amounts of energy to mine and process silica rock. In contrast, perovskite takes very little energy to produce, and can be sprayed onto surfaces, which saves energy in its installation and deployment.

Conventional household and commercial solar panels are also typically installed on roofs as they require crystalline silicon inserted in between glass sheets. With this new method of solar cell production, it is expected that pervoskite technology will eventually replace conventional solar cells due to their potential to adapt to a wider range of applications.

The potential of this technology is made evident by the progress and development of the research. The pervoskite solar application started with just one per cent efficiency utilising similar materials a few years ago, but its efficiency has now reached 11%. Perovskite’s potential, based on current testing, can reach up to 19%. In comparison, silicon’s efficiency is about 25%.

The race to develop cheaper solar panels is heating up. If photovoltaics are made cheaper, eco-friendly energy will be more accessible to a wider group of consumers. The year 2014 has seen a great wave of solar innovations: including that of solar cells printed on inkjet printers.

This emerging spray-on solar technology means that it is now possible to paint solar cells on walls, rooftops, vehicles and anywhere paint can be applied – meaning that the surfaces that solar energy can be harvested from are now limitless.

Many scientists have struggled to develop solar cell technologies that are easy to produce, will increase energy efficiency, and are simple to install. All of these parameters are now satisfied with the development of spray-on solar panels. They are not only eco-friendly, but have the potential to be inexpensive and easy to deploy.

The challenge for developers and manufacturers is to make these spray-on solar cells efficient enough to be implemented in large-scale applications.

The author of this article works for Brisbane-based company, Australian Solar Quotes, and their website has a useful bunch of information on the Australian solar industry.