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Solar paint: what you need to know

Imagine if, with just a coat of paint, you could generate enough energy to power your entire house or car – one of the solar industry’s newest innovations could help make that possible! As solar energy becomes increasingly popular, scientists continue to find new ways to improve current technologies and explore new alternatives to expand access to clean energy.

While solar panels are by far the most popular (and most efficient) way for homeowners to generate solar electricity, panels aren’t a good fit for all buildings. There are already a few ways to get around this: you could install a different system setup like a solar canopy or ground-mounted system, or you could sign up for community solar, which provides a discount on your electricity bill without having to install a single solar panel. One of the newest innovations in the solar industry comes in a very familiar form: paint! Solar paint is a new technology that aims to work as a regular paint, while still generating electricity from the sun.

Key takeaways

  1. Solar paint is a new technology that mixes solar cells with liquid to generate electricity.

  2. There are three types of solar paint: quantum dot solar cells, hydrogen-producing solar paint, and perovskite solar paint.

  3. Scientists are still developing solar paint but it will hopefully be an available solar solution soon.

  4. While you cannot buy solar paint yet, you can start your solar journey today and get multiple quotes from pre-screened installers through the EnergySage Marketplace.

What is solar paint?

Solar paint is not one specific product, but rather a series of similar technologies in development that aim to generate electricity from the sun using liquid instead of large hardware. This is an idea that has been tossed around in the renewable energy scientific community for years and is now closer than ever to becoming a reality.

Types of solar paint

There are three types of solar paint currently in development that have demonstrated the most potential: quantum dot solar cells, hydrogen-producing solar paint, and perovskite solar paint. While these cutting-edge systems are the furthest along, the exciting world of solar continues to evolve, with new technologies constantly emerging.

Quantum dot solar cells

Quantum dot solar cells, AKA photovoltaic paint, is a system based on incorporating nanoparticles into solar cells to capture a wider spectrum of light than traditional solar panels. Unlike solar cells in panels that only capture visible light, this technology could help harness energy from infrared rays which are not part of visible light, making solar energy systems more efficient. The nanoparticles in these advanced solar cells are so small that you could theoretically mix them into liquid paint and apply it in thin layers. This paint could then be applied to current solar panel systems to improve energy output, or even create new kinds of solar systems altogether.

Hydrogen-producing solar paint

Hydrogen is both one of the cleanest fuel sources available and the most plentiful element in the world, so finding ways to harvest hydrogen energy has been an ongoing project in the renewable energy research community. Hydrogen-producing solar paint can create electricity from water vapor by taking moisture from the air, then separating the oxygen and hydrogen within the water molecules using solar energy. Once you isolate the hydrogen, you can then use it to produce clean energy.

You can use this technology in a range of climates (humid or not), and the water doesn’t need to be filtered in order to work. If there are UV rays and water vapor in the air, this paint should be able to yield hydrogen.

Perovskite solar paint

Perovskite solar paint, AKA spray-on solar cells, is named after Russian mineralogist Lev Perovski who discovered perovskite crystals. Mineral compounds from perovskite crystals can conduct an electric charge when struck by light, which is why they are often used in solar cells. Even better, perovskite solar cells can take a liquid form and still conduct electricity, which makes them the perfect candidate for a solar paint!

Scientists have been testing spray-on perovskite solar cells in a thin film that you could use to create a tint for windows or layer onto roofs or outer walls of buildings.

Is solar paint available?

Many of these projects are innovative and cost-effective, but not yet available for commercial use. As scientists work to ensure that the energy produced by these paints can be channeled effectively and put to work, they remain faced with several unanswered questions. With the quickly evolving nature of the solar world, we’ll hopefully start to see these products as an accessible solar energy solution soon.

Applications for solar paint

While solar paint might not yet be available in a store near you, there are already several great ideas for how you could apply the paint to generate clean energy for everyday use in the future!

  1. Add to existing clean energy systems: you could apply solar paint to homes with solar panel systems, to improve efficiency, as well as to aid other renewable energy projects. For example, you could paint wind turbines to help keep a continuous stream of energy even on still days as long as the sun is shining.

  2. Apply to walls or windows of buildings or homes: not all building are a good fit for solar panels, but solar paint could be easily applied to walls, roofs, and, with thinner paint, such as the spray-on solar cells – even windows. This would make solar energy even more accessible to homeowners and offices, making it easier than ever to save money and reduce your carbon footprint.

  3. Apply to solar vehicles: there’s been some discussion about finding ways to add solar to electric vehicles (EV), and with this technology it could be as simple as adding a fresh coat of paint.

Start your solar journey

This revolutionary research is changing the renewable energy industry for the better, but could be years away from being a viable option for everyday use. Fortunately, you don’t have to wait on these paints to go solar. Using the EnergySage Marketplace, you can find local solar installers near you and make easy side-by-side comparisons of all your solar options. You’ll receive multiple quotes from pre-screened installers to compare equipment, financing options, costs, savings, and more!

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