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Thursday, 01 October 2020

Plastic photovoltaic paint

Wednesday, 16 May 2012 | Posted by: Prof. Rigoberto Advincula, Case Western Reserve University

Is it possible to paint a solar cell on your roof or wall?

The prices of solar cells or photovoltaic cells are going down. Thanks to mass production (in China) and improvement in efficiencies, the price is very competitive for Si-based devices. Roughly, a solar cell takes sunlight and converts it to electricity. The competitiveness of this device is based on the cost of production and efficiency of energy conversion. To rival oil, gas, nuclear, coal or other sources of electricity, it has to meet a competitive price based on Kw/h. Philosophically, one is willing to pay the price if it will be environmentally advantageous. However, economics will still dictated its ability to replace other sources of energy.

Enter plastic solar cells. These days, the range of efficiency is hovering between 5 to 10%. This is not yet a rival to Si-based solar cells with 15-30% efficiency. However, it may be competitive eventually in cost and form-factor. Plastic cells can be mass produced on a roll-to-roll basis or films. This will be thin film devices that can be installed as panels on walls or roofs. It can have the advantage of flexibility which means that it can be incorporated in fabric, textiles, tents, etc.. A cost of about 0.20 cents per KW/h will make this competitive.

The ultimate in cost savings is can we make this as ink or paint material? Can one install this as a do-it-yourself (DIY) project. Perhaps.

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