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Decorative Panels May Revolutionize Solar Power

Solar panels pack a lot of promise. Commercial solar panel systems reduce emissions, lower or even eliminate utility bills, and ultimately provide businesses with a reliable source of power that won’t be interrupted by storms and downed power lines. New, miniature solar panels are even trendy and stylish… really.

Can Solar Panels Be Decorative?

The short answer is yes. Researchers and developers are still working on the specifics, but essentially it works like this: Manufacturers may ultimately be able to print just about any design onto a thin and flexible solar panel sheet. From there, the design may be cut or trimmed into specific shapes. Researchers printed a batch of 200 test panels shaped like leaves, for example. The thin solar sheets are even organic and recyclable. Once perfected, the panels will likely “be used on things like windows, walls, machines, and other surfaces that can turn any structure, furniture, or even works of art into light-powered sources of energy for small devices and sensors,” according to a Jan. 26 Slash Gear article. The slim, decorative panels derive energy from the sun (just like larger solar panels) as well as some interior light sources.

Small, Flexible Panels Ill-Suited For Large Applications

While there is no denying this new technology is cool, it’s not ready for large-scale use yet. Just like you wouldn’t expect to light an entire office building with some candles and a desk lamp, the flexible solar sheets similarly aren’t cut out for powering commercial buildings. They can be used in addition to traditional solar electricity. Not only do large solar panels and solar panel mounting system setups provide more power, they may also have precise tracking systems. Current tracking systems follow the angle of the sun and tilt the panels accordingly to maximize the panels’ energy-harvesting power. Other systems are fixed in one position, but still produce an incredible amount of energy. Just about all large solar panel mounting systems are much more economical than you might expect, resulting in a quicker ROI for project owners looking to install solar.

Solar power is growing in affordability and customizability — and eventually business owners may be able to add a bit of decorative flair to their solar installations with adaptable solar panel sheets.

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