Who said solar panels aren't pretty?

Whoever thinks that wind turbines and solar panels are doomed to eternal ugliness might now change their tune thanks to Dr Michael Debije and his team of (awesome) Researchers.

Right now, on the A2 highway in the Netherlands lies a slab of solar panels that are actually good looking.

Ridiculously good looking.

Not your typical dark and opaque panels, these are translucent and colourful, similar to sheets of vivid stained glass window.

Sounds nice, doesn't it?

They give James Cameron's beautiful solar creation some serious competition!

Image: Wired

The new technology is called luminescent solar concentrators (LSC). Depending on the dye in the panels, they capture wavelengths of sunlight and funnel solar cells to the panel edges, generating solar energy. However, because LSC solar panels are thinner, they are only 4-8 percent as efficient as normal (less good-looking) solar panels, which are 13-15 percent efficient in collecting and diffusing sunlight.

But to the creators, Dr Michael Debije and his team, the fact that LSC solar panels are less efficient doesn't matter – Surprisingly, what matters to them is that they look nice.


The basic idea - Make solar panels attractive, and people will be more willing to put them on their houses.

If solar panels are easy on the eye, people will be more willing to put them on their homes as well as have them put in public spaces such as parks or highways.

“People don’t find them [standard solar panels] attractive, so it’s hard for a building designer to integrate them in a way people will accept”
- Debije

Although it's nice to have attractive renewables, the way renewable energy looks shouldn't really matter.

So long as we continue to encourage and implement clean forms of energy that reduce the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere, we don't think appearance matters at all!

What you can do

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Shannyn Warren Past Staff Writing Intern Suggest an article Send us an email