Solaires Team | Victoria, B.C. | July 2021

Our energy systems need to be upgraded. Petroleum and other fossil fuel products are predominately used for our energy production. However, they present major drawbacks, such as the release of greenhouse gases and other pollutants from their usage, limited availability, and high dependence on limited supplies that leave consumers vulnerable to price fluctuations. Solar energy has emerged as a clean and sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. Until this point, traditional silicon-based, utility-scale and rooftop solar panels dominated the solar market. Rooftops are just one of the thousands of places where solar panels can be installed to generate electricity. As costs drop and efficiency for energy production rises, we expect to see an increasing number of places where solar technologies are installed to provide limitless, inexpensive electricity.

As solar cells continue to be fabricated with new and improved materials like perovskite, solar technologies are set to become more accessible, lighter and flexible in design and applicable everywhere. Perovskite solar cells (PSCs) have garnered worldwide attention due to their low production costs, transparent properties, lightweight and thin design, and excellent light absorption properties. These advances enable an increasing number of creative solar energy applications that are currently in their infancy:

1. Solar Fabrics

Solar cells can be woven into textile fibres and generate solar electricity. With the unique properties of perovskite, a thin and flexible material can be created and then function as a fabric. These fabrics can be used as clothing fabrics, rollout blankets in emergency kits, sails on a sailboat, surface covers on rafts, covers on freight containers, etc. - enabling every surface the ability to harness solar energy.

2. Solar Transportation

Current electric vehicles face the common issue of limited range due to their batteries. There have been attempts to put solar panels on cars, but the additional weight hinders overall performance. Thin-film solar technology will enable panels to be discreetly integrated without impeding the vehicles’ overall look and performance. Its transparent properties and flexibility can allow for perovskite layers to conform undetectably on curved surfaces, such as the vehicles’ body panels and windows. It can provide auxiliary power for vehicles, such as cars, trains, airplanes and boats.

3. Solar Paint

Another transformative technology of the future could be perovskite-based solar paints. Perovskites can take on a liquid form that can be painted or sprayed onto a surface to form a sun-harnessing layer. Its consistency may not be exactly of paint, but similar to wallpaper that can be easily stuck on any surface. Solar paints can also be formulated in a variety of colours to paint roofs and walls that satisfy aesthetic purposes and harness solar energy simultaneously. Installations of solar paint are easy and cheap.

Harvesting solar energy no longer means using large, heavy, and rigid solar panels. It is also not always cost-effective, convenient, or even possible to extend power lines to locations where electricity is needed. This goes for rural homes, villages in developing nations, and other urban and remote areas. Innovations in solar thin-film technology, like Solaires’ perovskite solar technology, have introduced solar films that can be manufactured in rolls or the form of paint. These innovations greatly reduce both the cost and the installation space and open more application opportunities due to their simple integration on different surfaces.

With the development of low-cost, highly efficient, space-saving and easily installable thin solar films that can be applied anywhere, the solar energy market will undoubtedly boom. The IEA forecasts that solar costs are anticipated to decline by 15% to 35% by 2024, making solar energy adoption attractive and affordable.