Did you know that solar panels can be converted into an art form, just like canvasses where artists draw colourful and stunning images?
Generally, when we talk about solar panels, those boring rectangular roof-mounted PV solar panels pop up in our minds.
Things have, however, changed in recent years by some creative minds, through ground-breaking creative work and have given solar panels touch of their paintbrush.
Re-imagining solar panels as a contemporary art form have taken strides since the concept of the Land Art Generator Initiative in 2008.
In 2017, the Beam magazine in Berlin collaborated with the Street Art Berlin and the Little Sun Foundation and launched a unique Art Series.
Three Images of Solar Panel Canvases from 2017 Art Series (Source: Beam Magazine)
It was the first art exhibit of painted solar PV panels in the international arena. More than 40 artists and designers from different parts of the world took part in the art series, and created artworks using recycled solar panels as their canvas!
In this post, we will talk about 10 creative solar panels that have taken this art form to another level.
Related article: Top Solar Statistics You Need to Know in 2019
The first in the list, ColorBlast solar panels are truly a riot of colours!
These solar panels are the handy work of the Netherlands-based company KameleonSolar. The company applies a ceramic printing technique on the face of the module glass that allows sunlight gets through to the solar cells.
The solar modules offer freedom of design when making solar façades that look like architectural beauties.
Even customers can provide design ideas using a wide range of colours, their own print, and in nearly any shape or size.
The features of ColorBlast panels:
- High level of light transmittance
- The images and patterns can be printed in colour
- Mixing of colours is possible on demand
- The cells appear invisible from a distance of 5 meters
- Darker colours deliver higher performance than lighter colours
- Larger solar modules are available on request
- Designs can be spread over multiple panels
- The company provides 50 years’ guarantee for colorfastness, 30 years for linear performance, and 20 years for product.
Overall, the company is one of the pioneers in making hi-tech and aesthetic customizable solar panels.
Organic Photovoltaic Thin Film (OPV)
Organic photovoltaic (OPV) solar panels have made their mark in recent years due to their potential of providing low-cost solar along with colourful design.
By applying the fundamental photovoltaic processes in organic electronic materials and developing customized materials and device architectures, companies are producing these solar panels.
In recent times, there has been an increased efficiency of OPV devices to more than 10% that has triggered huge commercial interests that are opening up opportunities for further development and manufacturing.
Heliatek, a Germany-based company, is a leading producer of organic photovoltaic (OPV) thin-film solar panels.
Recently, the company has launched an international advertising campaign, called Solar Graffiti, featuring an installation on a sports field near Mexico City. The project combined the graffiti art of the local Street Artists N3O using Heliatek’s solar films to provide power to the lighting system of the sports field.
Projects like this are unique and path-breaking as they have combined new technologies along with the work of a street artist.
OPV solar panels are flexible, lightweight, and easy to install. The thin films blend perfectly with the art landscape to provide users with a permanent and useful energy solution.
Invent is an Italian company that produces photovoltaic modules that are both energy-efficient and beautiful.
The company vouches for the quality of the modules. According to them, the modules will not create any problem for customers even at the end of their lifespan, because Invent is a member of PV Cycle.
By applying their InvisibleCell® technology, Invent makes the electrical connections of the modules invisible and transforms the panels to appear aesthetically pleasing with an elegant and modern design.
When producing these modules, the company makes small variations in the pattern of the glass that can create any grayscale patterns. Panels can function together to form larger compositions.
The company has won several prizes for its photovoltaic modules, including the Premio Impresa Ambiente for designing the TechTile System. It is a unique photovoltaic roof tile that can be perfectly positioned on the roof of homes.
Kromatix Solar Panel
Kromatix™ solar glass is a creation of SwissINSO. These are custom colour-treated glasses face laminate used during the process of solar module production.
The solar panels both enhances the overall efficiency of Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) and the aesthetics of buildings.
The company applies a complex nanoscale multilayer deposition by plasma processes to get the colour. They use highly efficient and environment-friendly nanotechnology surface treatments to get structural colours. Those colours are in blue, orange, grey, bronze, blue-green, and brass.
Kromatix™ panels can be used in any PV panels or over flat solar thermal modules. Builders, architects, and system integrators now have unlimited aesthetic considerations when integrating solar technology.
As a result of such integrations, Kromatix™ panels have significantly increased the total available surface area for solar panels on buildings (BIPV). It has further improved the energy-efficiency of buildings and overall return on investment.
The company’s vision is to deploy solar energy in all buildings to combat global warming and take steps towards a sustainable future.
Some of the great examples of impressive Kromatix solar panel installation are:
- The Copenhagen International School in Copenhagen, Denmark
- Festo Office Building in Esslingen am Neckar, Germany
- Bornholms Hospital in Rønne, Denmark
- Rise Institute in Borås, Sweden.
Solaxess is a Switzerland-based company that makes solar films using nanotechnology. It is called “White Solar Technology.”
Installing these solar panels makes it possible to transform any exterior building surface into a solar power generator. The white finish panels can generate electricity from standard solar panels hidden behind the custom Solaxess laminate.
These panels can help architects, installers, project owners, and promoters to integrate with their solar projects. It is possible to integrate these panels into a new module during their assembly, on curved, flat, or pliable surfaces.
Also, it is possible to change the colours of the existing panels for customized looks, if required. In this way, the solar panels have not only become an energy-efficient energy source but also prove to be perfectly aesthetic.
Dutch Solar Design Photovoltaics
In the current scenario, it is the need-of-the-hour to have a more sustainable energy solution that is environment-friendly, smart, and cost-efficient.
That is why Dutch Solar Design has developed Dutch Solar Design Photovoltaic (DSD-PV) solar modules that are high-tech, efficient, accessible, and attractive. Moreover, these panels offer unlimited aesthetic possibilities.
DSD-PV is a kind of applied solar film that can be printed with any image. The company specializes in building textures that make it possible for the solar modules to be almost invisible and blend in the building’s outward appearance.
Dutch Solar Design has developed an advanced technique to integrate a full colour, durable print into a facade panel with integrated PV-cells. Subsequently, the desired image or design is processed using an algorithm, which determines an optimum level between minimal surface coverage and the maximal optical effect.
The customized prints have been created in such a way that they blend in the human eye, and create a subtle optical illusion. Also, depending on specific colours and desired opacity, the applied ink can allow a significant amount of sunlight to reach the PV-surface under the print as well.
These solar panels are what we can call is producing renewable energy along with creative freedom and artistic expression.
Monocrystalline Silicon and Thin Films
Monocrystalline silicon or Mono-Si solar panels can easily be recognized due to their even external colouring and uniform look, which indicate high-purity silicon.
Solar modules that are made from high-quality thin-film crystalline-silicon layers could substantially bring down the price of PV electricity.
Monocrystalline solar panels have a very high level of efficiency as they are made with the highest-grade silicon. The efficiency rates of these solar panels are somewhere between 15 and 20%. One of the leading producers of this type of solar panel is SunPower in the US.
Besides the high-efficiency rate, Monocrystalline silicon solar panels are space-efficient as well. These solar panels need the least space to produce the highest power outputs compared to other types of panels. For example, Monocrystalline solar panels can produce up to four times the electricity compared to thin-film solar panels.
Most Monocrystalline solar panel manufacturers provide a 25-year warranty on their solar panels as they have the longest duration.
Monocrystalline solar panels are, however, the most expensive. Due to this, many homeowners prefer a cheaper option like polycrystalline silicon solar panels.
Kaleo in Neuchâtel, Switzerland has developed a printed solar film that applies to the surface of a solar module. The colourful and glossy look of the panels makes them ideal photographic elements.
These wonderful solar modules for producing solar electricity seem to be completely invisible and will fascinate you with their mesmerizing artwork.
The company has developed a technology to enhance the range of architectural materials and blending it with a sustainable photovoltaic solution. So, Kaleo has brought a solution to the environment by combining solar energy and art.
Currently, the company has started a project called KALEO to produce solar modules using high-resolution images. This ambitious project also aims to turn the photovoltaic panel into a solar pixel.
In addition to the technological nuances, KALEO has initiated to raise awareness among the general public about using solar panels as solar envelope or communication support, besides being an energy-efficient tool.
These panels will be about new perspectives, new useful applications, and expanding the architectural horizons. Kaleo panels will allow integrating solar energy into our urban landscape, and at the same time, will constantly evolve to reveal its true potential.
Sistine Solar from Massachusetts, USA manufactures solar films called SolarSkin, on which it is possible to print any graphic.
SolarSkin is the creation by the engineers of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). These solar films are coated with durable graphics and have been integrated into high energy-efficient solar panels.
The solar films allow nearly all of the sunlight to get absorbed by the solar cells to produce electricity. These have been marketed as integration of solar panels on rooftops and full-scale printed images in a disguised way.
It would be interesting to mention that Sistine Solar has the credit for installing the world’s first Solar Mural in San Antonio in 2017. San Antonio-based artist Cruz Ortiz designed the La Monarca image and directed by Penelope Boyer.
When it comes to producing these solar films, Sistine Solar applies advanced algorithms and proprietary techniques.
Subsequently, they combine cognitive sciences, colour theory, and human visual perception. Combining all of these results in ultra-durable solar films that can last long even in extreme conditions.
Features of SolarSkin:
- Great ability to retain colour
- Excellent long-term adhesion
- Almost zero power loss
- Advanced UV testing for colour durability
- Damp-heat tested under 85°C and 85% humidity
- Rapid temperature testing for multiple temperature fluctuations.
Tesla Solar Roof Tiles
Tesla has brought solar roof tiles into the market with the purpose of complementing the architecture of homes along with converting sunlight into electricity.
Tesla roof tiles are installed in a way that sunlight gets direct access to solar cells. Also, different angles work like a lenticular image to give one graphical view from a specific angle and another graphical view from a different angle.
These solar tiles have an integrated Powerwall battery, through which the cells collect energy throughout the day, store the energy so that the energy is available at any time.
The company claims that solar glass tiles are extremely durable, there is a warranty for the lifetime of a house or infinity, whichever comes first. Interesting, isn’t it?
Tesla solar panels blend with a roof’s front, and there will be no visible mounting hardware. So, the roof gets a flawless appearance.
Related article: Top 9 Solar Roof Shingles Brands
In recent times, there have been initiatives to blend solar energy with creativity, and the results are fascinating! Companies that adopted this concept have come up with lamination glass, solar module technology, and thin solar films that are defining aesthetics in a whole new way.
The solar panels and their manufacturers listed in this post have done some great work and generating interest among end-consumers and solar installers. Some of the products are already out on the market and have created their special niche.
As the global energy transition spreading across the world, these art forms of solar panels will ensure both energy-efficiency and beautification of large and small cities. If more companies and artists collaborate to roll out innovative solar projects, it will bring about a wave of integration of solar panels and artistic canvas.
Let us know how you feel about the post. Your feedback will encourage us to come up with more interesting topics like this.
Related article: Top 10 Technological Breakthroughs in the Solar Industry
Since the early days, Sumit has been deeply concerning for the climate crisis and always felt hurt seeing how the human intervention is disrupting the ecological balance. He 100% believes that solar energy is the missing puzzle to our energy transition, and we have to go all out to implement this energy solution all over the world.