Environment

CSEM's white solar panels are made to blend into buildings

CSEM's white solar panels are ...
The white solar panel provides architects with more flexibility in using solar power systems
The white solar panel provides architects with more flexibility in using solar power systems
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The team behind the white solar panel
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The team behind the white solar panel
CSEM is working on developing colored layers as well as white
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CSEM is working on developing colored layers as well as white
The technology is designed to make solar panels blend into buildings
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The technology is designed to make solar panels blend into buildings
The white solar panel provides architects with more flexibility in using solar power systems
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The white solar panel provides architects with more flexibility in using solar power systems
A range of colors for the solar panel layers
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A range of colors for the solar panel layers
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Solar panels are seen as a way of making buildings greener and more sustainable, as well as making them less dependent on the grid for power. The problem is that the blue/black panels stick out like sore thumbs and end up exiled to rooftops. With the goal of making solar panels aesthetically invisible, the Swiss private, nonprofit technology company CSEM has developed what it bills as the world's first white solar modules – designed to blend into buildings instead of sitting on the roof.

The reason why most solar panels look like something off of a beetle’s back is because of the need to absorb visible light. Since nothing absorbs like something colored black, the photovoltaic cells that make up the panel are as dark as possible. That may do the job, but it also means that any solar panel installation looks like exactly what it is, which doesn’t leave architects with much latitude.

CSEM reasoned that what designers wanted was a panel that would come in different colors and has no visible connections, with white being the most desirable because of its versatility. The way in which the company managed this is with a plastic layer that goes over the panel. This layer acts as a scattering filter that reflects all visible light, yet lets in infrared rays, which allows the panel to generate electricity. CSEM claims that this layer works with any crystalline silicon cell and can be applied to any existing panel whether it’s flat or curved.

The company says that the technology has a number of advantages beside the cosmetic. Being white, the layer keeps the solar panels at a lower temperature, making them more efficient, as well as reducing air conditioning costs.

CSEM sees the technology as having not only applications in architecture, but in consumer goods such as laptops, phones, and vehicles such as cars and buses, as the layer is adapted to cover a range of colors.

The video below introduces the white solar panel technology.

Source: CSEM

White and colored solar modules: a revolution for building integration

View gallery - 5 images
3 comments
Captain Obvious
I didn't see where they bragged about their efficiency. Hmm. Lots of energy in visible light compared to infrared.
Lewis M. Dickens III
Well David,.
Perhaps they could include an architect who has great taste to select the colors.
Signal Red?
This would be great for automotive tops. Pick up some juice to run a cooling fan while parked so dogs and chillins don't get fried.
Problem with shiny white is all of the settlements from the Atmosphere so they end up looking dirty after a while. Good architects consider the issue of weathering.
Now if you can get up there with a shaggy soft brush on a long pole maybe you can wash them down. On vertical serfaces they should be OK.
Personally I was getting sick of the black/blue stuff with the aluminum trim everywhere... looked like the product of some absent engineer.
Bill
tyme2par4
So how much efficiency do you lose by removing the entire visible spectrum from the panel? A lot.