Clear Solar Panels Serve To Block Sound

SOLARSOLAR PANELS ARE typically dark, opaque, unsightly slabs blanketing the roofs of buildings. But they?ve got a brighter, more colorful future if the panels lining a Dutch highway is any indication. They could come in multiple hues?and even do double duty as noise-cancelling barriers.

These panels, installed on A2 Highway near Den Bosch, use a new kind of renewable energy technology called luminescent solar concentrators (LSC). Unlike typically metallic solar panels, these are red, yellow, and translucent. They are also cheaper than standard silicon-based panels?one of the reasons they?re be tested in a real-world context.

Dr. Michael Debije is the Eindhoven University of Technology professor spearheading the experiment. He?s spent years researching solar energy in the built environment and says that we still don?t have enough options for harnessing all the light that hits the earth. Standard solar panels live on rooftops, need to tilt at a certain angle, and, most problematically, are an eyesore. ?People don?t find them attractive, so it?s hard for a building designer to integrate them in a way people will accept,? he says.

His solution is a new kind of panel that looks more like a stained-glass window pane than a sleeping computer screen. Each LSC panel is essentially sheets of plastic that, depending on the dye, captures a certain wavelength of sunlight, and then funnels that light toward solar cells on the panel?s edges. The transparent panels aren?t as efficient as traditional models?Debije estimates that his panels will have a four to eight percent efficiency rating, compared to the 13 to 15 percent you get with silicon panels?but they?re vastly more attractive, and therefore, Debije believes, they have wider applications.

Read more at?WIRED