Painted solar cells can generate more renewable power

March 10th, 2008 - 1:40 pm ICT by admin  

London, March 10 (IANS) A new, eco-friendly technology generating as much power as 50 wind farms could go a long way in popularising solar energy, a new study has said. Dave Worsley of Swansea University is investigating ways of painting solar cells onto the flexible steel surfaces commonly used for cladding buildings, reported Sciencedaily.

“One of our university’s engineering doctorate students was researching how sunlight interacts with paint and degrades it, which led to us developing a new photovoltaic method of capturing solar energy,” he said.

“We have been collaborating with the steel industry for decades,” explained Worsely, “but haven’t really paid much attention to how we can make the outside of the steel capable of doing something other than looking good.”

Paint is applied to steel when it is passed through rollers during the manufacturing process, and it is hoped that the same approach can be used to build up layers of the solar cell system.

The researchers’ aim is to produce cells that can be painted onto a flexible steel surface at a rate of 30-40 square metres a minute.

Worsley pointed out that if 100 million square metres of steel cladding outputted yearly were treated with photovoltaic material, with only a five percent conversion rate, it could generating 4,500 gigawatts through the solar cells annually, the equivalent output of roughly 50 wind farms.

Unlike conventional solar cells, the materials being developed at Swansea are more efficient at capturing low light radiation, meaning that they are better suited to the British climate.

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