Solar power without ugly panels

Elon Musk, Tesla‘s boss, announced in 2016: solar tiles with integrated solar cells. But green electricity, not ugly solar panels on the roof. It took some effort to get solar panels working, but Musk and many other parties have succeeded.

Despite Musk’s great promises in 2016, the Dutch company ZEP was ahead of the American tech superpower. They brought working solar panels onto the market earlier, but only received a fraction of the attention.

Nice, of course, winning from the Americans, but the consumer will not be hot or cold from this race until the key question is answered. After all, what is the efficiency of solar panels compared to traditional solar panels?

Solar panels, which form rectangular slabs on an increasing number of roofs, pay for themselves in an average of seven years. After that, they start earning money. Replacing an entire roof with solar panels is a considerably larger investment. If that investment has to be recouped by only removing the electricity bill, it takes an average of twenty years before such a roof will generate money.

That‘s where the crux lies: anyone who invests in solar panels also invests in a new roof. If we don’t include the cost of a new roof, the price is suddenly not that bad. So this hybrid solution is particularly interesting for new construction projects or for those who had a new roof planned.

The question remains: are solar panels as efficient in supplying electricity as panels? Again, the answer is ambiguous. After all, solar panels generate less energy per square metre, but can be installed over the entire roof. Including strange corners and short pieces of roof where panels do not fit.

In many cases, therefore, solar panels generate more electricity than panels that can be installed less efficiently, but the fact remains that – depending on the roof – an average of 25% more surface area is needed if solar panels are chosen.

Wall cladding

Apart from solar panels, there is a second option that can generate solar energy without compromising the aesthetics of a house or building: solar panels as cladding. The Pixasolar company produces panels in various sizes and in all conceivable colours or colour combinations. Thanks to the ceramic inkjet print on the inside of front glass and the lack of edges (frame), a sleek white facade can simply remain taut and white, but in the meantime generate power.