Solar Cell Paint Could Innovate the Future of Renewables

Fossil fuels continue to account for the largest source of energy in the U.S. In 2018, nearly 80% of energy production was from nonrenewable fuels like oil and coal. Eventually, this mass consumption will result in the Earth running out of these resources completely. Thus, the further advancement of renewable and clean energy becomes more important each day. 

Already, companies and individuals are harnessing the power of the sun and converting it into energy. More would likely install panels if they weren’t so expensive. A 6-kilowatt system can cost upward of $30,000, if not more, depending on where you live. Solar paint, however, might offer a perfect solution.  

What Is Solar Paint?

Solar paint is an innovative way to use the sun’s rays to develop energy. A team of researchers from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia developed the product a few years ago. The paint absorbs moisture from the air. Then, the sun’s light and warmth break the liquid down into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter of which they can use to produce energy. 

One of the biggest advantages of this invention is it doesn’t rely on clean water to feed the system. Rather, it relies on rainwater and vapor in the air — regardless of whether or not it contains pollutants — to produce fuel. Thus, wherever there’s moisture in the air, the paint will work. 

A Complement to Panels 

Another more obvious advantage is you can paint practically anything with it — from walls to shutters. You can even paint your roof. In any other situation, doing this would be incredibly challenging. For example, many people choose to paint their roof or equipment on top of it with an alkyd base coat or epoxy paint. These can chalk and crack in the sun. Solar paint, however, was made to coat roofs and the exterior of your home.

Thus, once the product is commercially available, you can coat your home and use it alongside solar panel systems to boost efficiency. Doing so would also increase surface area, coating spots that don’t receive enough sunlight to merit a full panel. In this way, homeowners and corporations could boost their solar energy production at a fraction of the cost of installing more panels. 

The Future Is Bright

Scientists and researches have long applauded hydrogen as one of the cleanest forms of sustainable energy. However, due to current problems associated with production, storage and efficiency, hydrogen power hasn’t gone mainstream yet. Current production relies on electrolysis to split the oxygen and hydrogen molecules, thereby defeating the purpose of using hydrogen energy in the first place. 

Solar paint could solve this issue, however, since the process of separating the molecules simply involves titanium oxide and molybdenum sulfide. 

While it may still be a few years before solar paint reaches the mass production stage, its future is quite bright. This technology is likely to revolutionize the renewable energy industry. Once people can get their hands on the paint, it could replace panels completely and make solar power ubiquitous. After all, every home has walls and a roof that can be coated. 

In the Meantime

The world is still a few years away from solar paint hitting the shelves. While you’re waiting, though, your best option for harnessing the sun’s power is installing solar panels. Although the initial investment may be costly, they’ll pay off in a few years with the money you’ll save on electricity and gas bills. This is especially true as electricity prices continue to rise. Thus, purchasing solar panels now will ensure you don’t get stuck paying increasingly expensive bills. 

Plus, each U.S. state offers a tax credit to incentivize your purchase. For instance, some regions don’t include the value of panels in property value assessments. The federal government is also allowing people to deduct 26% of the total installation cost from your taxes until the end of 2020. By 2022, residential installments won’t qualify for these tax credits. Therefore, it’s best to take advantage of them while you can. 

Once solar paint comes out, you can use it to complement your shiny new solar panels and save money and the planet.