Solar Power May Be Generated by Spray-on PV Paint

August 16, 2010 in Building the Green Economy, Renewable Resources, Zero-combustion paradigm by Joseph Robertson

Solar power is one of the most promising and unpredictable forms of clean energy, because light and heat are so diverse in their effects and so fundamental to our interactions with energy. Innovations in harvesting solar power have come fast and furious over the last decade, with miniaturization to the nanoscale of light-sensitive particles able to capture solar energy. Now, a Norwegian company has developed a system with “metal nanoparticles embedded in a transparent composite matrix that can be easily sprayed on”.

According to Inhabitat, the EnSol spray-on solar film could be applied not only to windows, but to walls, or even to automobiles, to help charge batteries. The potential for more advanced forms of the technology to ultimately provide a means by which battery-powered vehicles could maintain a charge or repower in motion is a serious consideration of ongoing zero-combustion energy research. The technology is expected to be available to the general consumer market by 2016.

In April, it was reported that NextGen had created one of the most advanced solar paint technologies to date and was raising money to move from the laboratory environment “into the real world” of manufacture and sales. NextGen’s solar paint also involves nano-scale PV particles that form larger solar “cells” when the paint dries, and that could achieve 40% energy-conversion efficiency for one-third the cost of traditional PV cells.

The Pentagon began funding research on solar paint back in 2004. EnSol, in Norway, is another pioneer in this field. The National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the University of Texas, are just a few of the other major institutions researching ways to apply solar photo-voltaic energy-capture technology by way of infused paint products.

Len Batterson, an investor in cutting-edge technologies, says NextGen’s research could lead to the biggest venture capital deal in history, if the technology is proven in a setting that shows it can work commercially. EnSol’s success is another indication that this kind of PV technology can work, and should be on the market by the middle of this decade.