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Rooftops across our sun-drenched land are doing more than just radiating heat. More than one in ten Australian households have solar panels.
That’s about to grow. Significantly.
Australian and overseas entrepreneurs along with clean energy companies are building roofs and adapting new materials for solar. Even Elon Musk is in.
Here are five of the most promising.
Solar paint. Cover your rooftop and house with a coat of solar paint. Connect wires. Bingo, you’re generating solar power. Genius.
Solar paint comes out of Australia via the University of Newcastle, headed up by Prof Paul Dastoor.
The paint holds soluble organic electronic materials which conducts electrical charges, and costs around a tenth of installing a rooftop silicon solar panel system.
Solar paint won’t last as long as Dulux, and generates power at relatively small efficiencies. But it’s incredibly versatile. And cheap.
“In terms of the solar paint technology, the development is going well. We are manufacturing printed solar panels at scale”, says Prof Dastoor.
“Modules that are only five per cent efficient and only last five years will produce electricity at a cost that is comparable to or lower than coal-fired electricity generation.
“Here at Newcastle, we are currently working with global partners to install the first large scale test sites by the end of this year.”
Tractile: Solar Tiles
Another Aussie product is from Tractile. It’s the world’s first and only roof tile that generates both electricity and hot water.
Two types of tiles are produced for all kinds of roofs, for both new and existing houses.
A retrofit only requires just a fifth of an average household rooftop to cover its daily energy needs.
Plus, it’ll generate hot water which can save 80 per cent on water heating.
Net result: Zero energy emissions.
There’s a payback period involved. A conventional roof would be around $10,000 cheaper. But the average household will get ahead after around seven years. The warranty on offer is for 30 years.
Take that, convention.
SunTegra Solar Tiles and Shingles
US-based SunTegra offers solar cells integrated as part of the roof via both solar tiles and shingles for rooftops.
A single tile can produce 67W, a shingle 100W. It uses fewer parts than traditional panels and installs quickly.
SunTegra’s pricing is 15 per cent higher than traditional rooftop panels, but they are just as durable. They’re ventilated to keep cool, and are rated for wind, fire and even snow.
The 25-year guarantee is more than what you get from traditional rooftop materials, let alone from solar panels.
Let’s hope we see them in Australia.
SoloPower Solar Roll
SoloPower offers a completely different approach. Instead of big bulky panels, they’ve developed a flexible solar panel that rolls out like carpet on a roof. They are twice the cost of traditional panels, but that pays back in installation savings. And they go where heavy panels can’t.
Made from thin-film with flexible composition, the panels offer 11 per cent energy conversion and are incredibly lightweight.
Just roll them over an existing roof and stick them down. No expensive frames. No power tools.
Sunbandit - Solar hot water even in winter
A smaller scale option comes from Sunbandit. It’s all about innovative hot water for your home.
Worried about a big installation and grid connection?
Sunbandit’s product is all-contained. It will still work during a power outage.
The small-scale means you need less space. Fewer roof concerns and less capital outlay.
It's a smart solution for homes that don’t have huge roofs, but want the benefits of solar.
What solar innovations are you looking forward to most? Share your thoughts below.