Spray-On Solar Cells Show Promise For Cheaper Sun Power

Photovoltaic solar power field at Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee

Photovoltaic solar power field at Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee

Enlarge Photo

What if you could get solar panels in a can?

A team of researchers at the University of Alberta has developed a solar cell made from a spray-paint like material, Mashable reports.

While it won't necessarily be applied with a rattle can, this spray-on solar cell could make sun power cheaper.

The cells are made of zinc phosphate nanoparticles. These particles can be dissolved to form an ink, but after they've been sprayed onto a surface and allowed to dry, they are responsive to light.

Since this new type of cell is based on two common elements -- zinc and phosphorous -- it should be easier and cheaper to manufacture than conventional solar cells.

It will also be easier to install. The spray-on cells are attached to a plastic base, not the heavy, expensive silicon base used in typical solar panels. In addition to being cheaper overall, the plastic-backed panels' lighter weight means they can be mounted to roofs without extra support.

That could make spray-on panels an attractive option for plug-in electric car owners looking to charge their cars in the greenest way possible, among others.



Enlarge Photo

A large number of California electric car owners already use solar.

A February 2012 study by the California Center for Sustainable Energy found that ,of 1,419 plug-in car owners surveyed, 39 percent had solar installations at their homes. This was when there were only 12,000 plug-in cars on California roads.

A May 2013 followup found that the same percentage of plug-in owners used solar.

The cost of home solar panel installation is already dropping; it's currently around $5.30 per watt for systems under 100 kilowatts, and $4.60 per watt for larger systems. The cost of panels dropped $2.60 per watt from 2008 to 2012.

If cheap, lightweight solar panels proliferate, they could exacerbate the challenges for utility companies, who are already starting to view home solar as a threat to their business.


Follow GreenCarReports on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Follow Us

Take Us With You!


© 2017 Green Car Reports. All Rights Reserved. Green Car Reports is published by Internet Brands Automotive Group. Stock photography by izmostock. Read our Cookie Policy.