How about a blue solar panel?

The Wall Street Journal  had an interesting post recently about the aesthetics of solar panels and about how for commercial buildings and billboards, solar panels are relatively ugly. Or to come at the question from the opposite direction: What if solar panels looked really cool in really awesome colors? Could that kickstart adoption?

I’m not holding my breath on this one though there are some cases, like Tesla and Nest, where design really helps move product. The efficiency losses by making a solar panel blue or green or fuscia is from 1 to 5 percent, not really all that bad. A German team is working on producing multi colored solar panels. The team is also looking at using cheaper materials like zinc oxide instead of tin oxide in an effort to further lower costs.

I couldn’t see a red solar panel having any application at a utility scale level, but on a consumer level, I could see different colored panels finding a place. Not just for a homeowner looking for something different, but also someday in the mobile plain. Wouldn’t a laptop case with a red solar panel be cool? Or a ski jacket with a red flexible panel to charge your iPod? Just thinking out loud here.

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Adam Lesser

Cleantech Curator Gigaom Research

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