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6 Solar Panel Innovations That Are Shaping the Future of Solar Energy

From solar skin and sticky tape solar panels to clear solar panel and frameless solar panel, the future looks quite bright for renewable energy.

One of the lesser-known benefits of a solar panel is that installing a solar panel can increase the value of your property. You will be amazed to know that mounting 5kW of solar panels to your home can increase the value of your property by up to $29,555 or more, depending on solar panel production.

Functionally solar panels are awesome but what about the aesthetics? Think about a solar panel for a moment. What comes to your mind?

Let me guess,

Most likely, a blue or black colored bulky panel with a rigid rectangular frame.

Thanks to the new era of innovation, we are about to witness multi-colored, lightweight, flexible, sleek and stylish solar panels which are intended to offer optimal efficiency. In this article, we have listed some of the most exciting developments in solar panel that are being talked about right now.

Before diving into our first innovation, let me ask you another question --

Have you ever realized that the sunlight reflected off the ground can also generate power and failing to capture it is a waste?

Never, right? But the researchers did and that was the idea behind this innovation --

1. Double-sided Solar Panels

The back face of double-sided solar panels generates electricity from ambient light reflected from the surrounding surfaces and combines with power from the front face of the panel. Dependent upon site albedo and system design, this results in up to 30% higher power generation (more kWh) per square foot.

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Double-sided solar panels

Would you prefer clothing having nice fabric but with color that doesn’t suit you?

Well, sometimes you may compromise style over quality but in the case of solar panels, you don't have to sacrifice style for sustainability anymore. Let’s see how --

2. Solar Skin Design

With solar skin design it’s time to say goodbye to ugly solar panels and hello to a new era of beautiful solar panels. MIT startup Sistine Solar is revolutionizing PV design with solar panel skins named SolarSkin. The company aims to re-brand solar panels as a luxury product that improves the aesthetic of a house while also generating major energy savings. SolarSkin is an upgrade that makes solar panels beautiful. These “solar skin” products can match a solar panel array to the exterior design of any household. These are compatible with nearly every brand of solar panel.

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Solar Skin Design

“Better bend than break”

This saying is best-suited for our next innovation --

3. Sticky Tape Solar Panels

One of the major problems with solar panels is that they have a very static design that isn't intended to be moved after installation, the only solution to this problem is the conceptual 'Energy Tape' i.e. Sticky Tape Solar Panels.

Sticky Tape Solar Panels are organic solar cell foil with optional semi-transparent lined adhesive on the front or backside and functions as a solar sticker. These adhesive tapes are flexible, shatterproof and semi-transparent as compared to silicon solar cells which are brittle, easily breakable and opaque. In addition, these offers numerous other benefits such as improved dimensional stability, smooth surface assembly, and a high strength to weight ratio.

Does the thought of installing bulky solar panels on your beautiful, elegant roof scare you? Then check out the next innovation.

4. Solar Roof Tiles

Traditional solar panels which are bulky and jut out of your roofline always call attention to themselves. Made with tempered glass, solar roof tiles are sleek solar panels that look like traditional roofing shingles. TESLA, the manufacturer of solar roof tiles, claims that their solar roof tiles are half the weight and more than three times stronger than standard roofing tiles; hence the company is offering "Infinite Tile Warranty."

Elon Musk, co-founder and CEO at Tesla says, it's "infinity or when your house falls down."

Well, that’s quite a bold claim!

Being the first generation product, this also brings all sorts of problems like high-cost, long weighting time etc. Despite all such limitations, the huge potential of this innovation can’t be ignored.

Now let’s explore the next innovation

5. Clear Solar Panels

Since the first glass windows were used in Roman Egypt in 100 AD, glass has been an important material in Architecture. From skyscrapers to our smartphones, glasses are an inevitable part of our daily life.

A new generation of see-through solar panel is in news nowadays. The panels can be used to harvest the massive energy potential of small and large surfaces like building and car windows, cell phones as well as other objects with a transparent surface. Proposed by a team of engineering researchers from Michigan State University (MSU), these panels are an innovation in multiple ways because, in addition to being more visually attractive, these panels are more durable than a typical silicon cell panel.

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Clear Solar Panels

6. Frameless Solar Panels

Many homeowners find the solar panel frame least attractive part of a PV panel. To solve that problem, major manufacturers such as SolarWorld, Trina, and Canadian Solar are producing frameless solar modules. These modules are appealing to those seeking aesthetics, as panels can appear to be “floating” on the roof. These are inherently less expensive than traditional framed panels. Other benefits include -- no grounding requirements, better performance due to a lack of debris buildup at the edge of the module, and lower transport and warehouse storage costs due to increased packaging density and less weight.

In spite of the benefits listed above, frameless panels still have some technical challenges to overcome. Due to the lack of compatible mounting systems, frameless modules cannot be installed in the field.

Overall, it may be said…

In today’s increasingly competitive solar market, manufacturers are always on the lookout for new ways to make their products more efficient and eco-friendly. For those considering solar panel systems in the near future, although these products look quite lucrative but beware of the pitfalls. Do not go by the flashy ads, conduct a thorough research on the pros and cons of these panels, and compare the pricing & warranties. Remember, awareness is the only way to avoid falling into “the marketing trap”.

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