CSEM: White Solar Panels

Swiss non-profit applied research company Centre Suisse d’Electronique et de Microtechnique (CSEM) based in Neuch├átel has developed a new solar panel technology that appears to be white. Until now solar panels have always appeared in dark colours such as blue or black.

The new solar panels from CSEM do not have visible cells cells or connections. This means that the solar panels do not stand out visually on a building or a machine, so it is much easier for architects and designers to integrate solar panels into a design or structure.

The panels are made by concealing the underlying “standard” solar panel with a layer of coloured material. This material uses nano-technology to allow infra-red light to pass through while reflecting all other visible light. The panel therefore appears white while the the panel’s original colour remains hidden. In addition, the film can be made to reflect any colour of light, so that the panels can be easily integrated into any colour scheme.

A side-benefit of the reflection of the white light is that there is much less heat absorbed by the solar panel; CSEM has calculated that the solar panels will run 20 to 30C cooler than “conventional” panels. In hot, sunny countries this would lead to heat-reduction in the building covered by the panels and consequent savings on air-conditioning costs.

This technology can be applied as an “add-on” to existing solar panel installations. Besides applications of the white panels in building, CSEM expect that it could also be used in the automotive industry as well as on consumer goods such as laptops and mobile phones.