Photovoltaic Paint: New-generation Energy Source
30th October, 2020
We live in a world full of inventions. Almost daily we see new inventions making their way into our world, our small lives. In this article, we discuss one of the life-changing inventions that have high potential to become a reality, which is photovoltaic paint, a paint that can provide us with energy to run our homes and cars with. It sounds unreal but this image is being worked upon to make it a reality as you’re reading this.
For the past decade or so we have seen a huge shift from the usage of non-renewable energy resources to renewable ones. This shift has been made keeping in mind the deteriorating health of our planet and diminishing non-renewable resources. One of the renewable energy resources that have been highly used for the past decade is solar energy. Solar energy panels are installed at homes, offices or buildings, etc. But the main problems that these panels pose are cost and maintenance. That’s why scientists have been looking for a way to make photovoltaic paints from around 2005.
Why Photovoltaic (PV) Paint?
These PV paints are nothing but a paint in which quantum dots are sprayed atom to atom on a backing, created by the University of Toronto. These quantum dots are responsible for converting solar energy into electricity in these paints. These dots are nothing but semiconductors of the order of nanometers; they can be used because if a semiconductor is made of this order, the quantum effects come into the picture, thereby limiting the energies at which electrons and holes (absence of electrons) will exist in the particles. Since energy is related to the wavelength, which means that its optical properties will work at our will just by finely tuning it, depending on its size.
The conventional solar energy method is a well-proven technology that requires a one-time installation cost. But that cost itself is very high and the hassle of installing these panels is too much as well, which leads many people to stop switching towards this mode of energy. On the other hand, PV paint is going to be much cheaper, thus reducing the cost of electricity generation and almost anyone can afford it because it doesn’t require a large roof space like the panels. Also, if one knows how to paint, that money can be saved too and people won’t have workers for the whole day working around their house.
Some more problems with the panels are- the number of cells is limited, low light absorption coefficient because of indirect bandgap and inflexibility. These problems are also taken care of by the PV paint.
As amazing as the concept of PV paints sound, the concept of just painting our house and cars and able to generate energy from them, we should not forget that they have their own limitations.
The current major limitation that is not letting this dream scenario become a reality is its efficiency. The current efficiency at which these paints are sitting is 8%, i.e. they can convert 8% of the total solar energy they are exposed to. To compare, the traditional silicon panels have about 18% efficiency. Also, according to experts, solar technology has to surpass a 10% efficiency level to be commercially viable.
This PV paint is the new generation energy that will change the world we live in. It might have limitations now, but which product before becoming available did not have limitations. These paints will march us into the dawn of the age of solar energy.
Solar Paint - The Future of Solar? (2017, June 20). Retrieved September 15, 2020, from https://solaractionalliance.org/solar-paint/
Khan, Shaheer & Rahman, Ataur. (2019). The efficiency of thin film photovoltaic paint: A brief review. International Journal of Recent Technology and Engineering. 7. 163-169.
Gautam, A. (2020, May 15). Solar paint: The next big thing in renewable energy? Retrieved September 15, 2020, from https://www.solarreviews.com/blog/solar-paint-hydrogen-quantum-dot-perovskite-solar-cells
Berger, M. (2019, October 15). What are quantum dots? Retrieved September 15, 2020, from https://www.nanowerk.com/what_are_quantum_dots.php
About the Author
Mukul is a 2nd year physics (hons) undergraduate at St. Xavier's College (Autonomous), Kolkata.