Solar power from paint

Taking thin film solar cell technology a step further, imagine being able to paint solar cells on your roof!

Researchers at Swansea University are looking into the possibility of painting solar cells onto steel surfaces commonly used for cladding buildings.

The materials being developed at Swansea are being refined for capturing low light radiation, meaning that they are better suited to countries such as Britain.

The potential for the paint is huge. SwanSea are working with Corus Colors; a major manufacturer of pre-finished steels, producing around 100 million square metres of steel building cladding a year.

Treated with the photovoltaic paint, and based on a 5% energy conversion rate, Dr Dave Worsley at the University’s says that 4,500 gigawatts of electricity production would be possible annually, equivalent to output of roughly 50 wind farms. You can read more about the solar power paint here.

I always get really excited about new developments in solar technology, but there’s really not much filtering down to the end consumer level still.

Solar power, even with rebates, continues to be rather expensive and while there are some cheaper brands now hitting the market, some appear to come at a major cost to the environment. It’s recently been revealed that in China, a major company that produces polysilicon for solar panel manufacturers appears to be dumping a highly toxic byproduct of polysilicon production, silicon tetrachloride, in order to reduce costs

I like a bargain as much as anyone else, but this Washington Post article on the topic will make me think twice about looking for the cheapest solar panel deals I can find.