Solar panels are no longer just a fashionable trend, they have become a necessity. Climate change has prompted authorities, architects, and builders to work together and think of constructions that are more sustainable and empathetic towards the environment.
California is the first state in the United States to adopt the clean energy solar panel mandate. For that reason, as of January 1, 2020, solar panels on new low-rise houses (this includes single-family homes and multi-family constructions of three floors or less), will be mandatory. However, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA) China is the largest global investor in the energy sector ($315 billion in 2016) and countries such as Chile, Turkey, Mexico, and Uruguay have increased their use in their infrastructure.
In that regard, the global investment report for the energy sector in 2016 (World Energy Investment 2016) of the IEA states that the investment in renewable technologies, such as solar energy, must increase if the global economy aims to stabilize the climate. Luckily, governments, architects, builders, and designers have joint efforts to progressively introduce solar panels into the structure of buildings.
Improve the design and benefit the climate
Something that has certainly helped the introduction of solar panels in family buildings, so they can be positively received, is the change in their design. Known technological companies such as Tesla, Panasonic, and LG work on proposals that are lighter, more efficient and of course, aesthetically pleasing.
In this sense, the most innovative aspect is the frameless clear photovoltaic panels that are made of glass. These solar panels use the same technology of silicon cells and materials that a standard panel uses, but instead of being mounted on an opaque support material, the cells are interspersed between two glass casings. The glass panels are not only visually more attractive but also more durable than silicon cell panels. Another advantage they offer is the fact that they are more resistant to fire hazards and less prone to erosion.
In terms of their installation, these panels are frequently integrated into skylights, and there are even options that can be used as solar windows, which certainly adds innovation to the residential concept. Today, these solar windows are mainly used in Europe.
Tesla to the roof
As if manufacturing solar vehicles wasn’t enough, Tesla launched photovoltaic tiles. Aside from all the advantages of solar energy, the design of these solar photovoltaic tiles offers a unique feature that makes them very attractive: they can go unnoticed.
Another advantage is that these solar tiles are much more durable than the standard materials used in roofs that we see nowadays. Also, Tesla offers an interesting catalog that will allow the final owner of the house, as well as the architect or builder, to choose the option that best suits the style of your home (Tuscan glass, slate glass, textured glass, and smooth glass tiles).
Heavy and giant solar panels are a thing of the past. Companies like Sistine Solar (a design company located in Boston) and MIT are working in the concept development of solar panels with a customized appearance.
MIT engineers have created a product called “solar skin” that allows solar panels to minimize the appearance of their solar modules. These photovoltaic skins allow the panels to perfectly match the color and aesthetics of the roof tiles without interfering with the efficiency or output of the panel.
In sum, solar technology is no longer an eccentric thing only suitable for ecological activists, thus becoming a mandatory trend for constructions in the near future.