Solar power has come a long way since it was first introduced way back in the 19th century. French Scientist Edmond Becquerel is often credited with bringing solar energy to the world, although some claim it began with the sketches of Leonardo Da Vinci. Nowadays most people equate solar energy with the cumbersome panels positioned high up on roofs creating an unattractive skyline. The advances in solar energy over the past few decades have been truly astonishing, and the latest advance in this particular field is spray-on solar panels.
Scientists the world over have been developing spray-on solar technology, and in 2011 the first prototype was unveiled by Mitsubishi. Comprised of carbon compounds, as opposed to the traditional silicon based solar panels, it can be sprayed onto surfaces in much the same way as vehicle manufacturers spray paint cars. Currently it can produce around a 10% energy conversion rate, but scientists are hoping to bring this up to 15% in the near future. The panels are much thinner than the traditional ones we see today, so they could be used to coat the outside of circular walls and buildings.
The possibilities for this technology are endless, and developers are even hinting at a possible collaboration with a car company to create a solar powered vehicle using the technology. Some developers are envisioning solar power in clothing which could power an IPod or phone, or even a public transport system which operated on clean, renewable energy. The flexibility of the spray-on solar panels means they could be sprayed onto virtually anything, so they could be incorporated into all types of structures.
The advances don’t stop there as other scientists are working on a similar technology which would increase the efficiency of solar panels. Researchers in Australia have developed a spray-on solar panel using nanotechnology which can harness even more of the sun’s rays than current models, and hope to increase their energy conversion rate by five times the current amount. These panels are also capable of catching unseen ultraviolet light, something the traditional panels cannot do. This technology is still in the development stages, and researchers are striving to keep the manufacturing costs low to make them accessible to the average buyer.
The main disadvantage of current solar panels technology is cost effectiveness, and many people simply cannot afford to switch from their current method of energy supply. With new technology comes new and cheaper manufacturing methods, and hopefully the future will see many more homeowners switching to clean energy. Once they are installed, solar panels supply an endless amount of clean energy that supports our busy lifestyles without harming our delicate environment.