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Goodbye Ugly Solar Panels

Colourful solar panels show renewable energy can look beautiful too.

There’s beauty in solar panels in that they capture light from our precious sun and convert it into electricity. With that said, the solar panel itself is not necessarily beautiful. Tesla are trying to disguise them as roof tiles but, let's face it, practically every solar panel system you've ever spotted is, well, ugly.

To give solar panels an aesthetic boost, designer Marjan van Aubel has created a set of stained glass-style solar panels that will form part of the Dutch pavilion at Expo 2021 Dubai.

Made from polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, these lightweight plastic modules can simultaneously generate solar power and let tinted daylight pass through. So, can be used as part of a window design, rather than plonked on a roof.

At first glance, the colorful solar panels look like a modern take on the stained glass windows often seen in churches. So, why does this matter? According to Van Aubel, attractive sustainable technology is the way to effect change. “We’re not going to change the world with ugly things,” she told Dezeen.

Van Aubel has been developing solar panels for several years. They are created using light-absorbing organic dyes that cover tiny particles of titanium dioxide nanomaterial to turn sunlight into electricity. The low-cost, flexible solar cells are applied to a translucent surface (such as a window pane) like a sticker.

The Dubai Expo will be a chance to show off the potential of this technology to some of the 25 million visitors projected to attend the event.

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