Candy-Colored Solar Panels Don't Need Direct Sun

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September 14, 2009—A "green" technology company has developed jewel-toned solar panels that capture different parts of the sun's light spectrum and don't need direct sunlight to work, the company says.

© 2009 National Geographic (AP)

Unedited Transcript There's nothing new about solar power itself, but the scientists who've produced these luminous panels are hoping they'll transform the potential for 'green' energy.

They say the key is the bright colors in hues to capture different parts of the sun's light spectrum.

GreenSun, the company behind the technology, says unlike conventional solar panels, these can produce electricity without direct sunlight.

It says the colored panels don't need to face the sun and can absorb dispersed light.

This means they can also harness energy on a cloudy day, although with less efficiency than on sunny days.

The company says production costs are kept to a minimum because they require less silicon.

SOUNDBITE: (English) Renata Reisfeld, Chief Technology Officer, GreenSun Energy "We have developed a luminescence solar concentrator, which concentrates solar light from a big plate, glass plate, it converts it to the edges of the plate, so instead to cover the entire plate with solar cells, that are so expensive, we can use only a small part of solar cells."

When light hits the panel, it is diffused to the edges, which are covered with silicon solar receptors. These produce electricity when sun light hits them.

They're being developed in this crowded laboratory in Jerusalem.

Chief Technology Officer Professor Renata Reisfeld says they are a new generation of light-capturing solar panels because they are cheaper and more practical.

SOUNDBITE: (English), Professor Renata Reisfeld "Now heat is damaging the efficiency of the cells. In our plates we concentrate only the light, that produces electricity. The heat is just dispersed."

She says they're also more practical because they can replace everyday building surfaces, such as windows and walls, rather than taking up extra room on a rooftop or field.

But according to some, there are still a few drawbacks.

SOUNDBITE: (English) Amnon Samid, CEO, AGS Encryptions, Tel Aviv "To see photovoltaic panels on every building. It's also nice, its efficient, its effective, its all the advantages. But still it makes the buildings more expensive. People will not be willing to pay. The efficiency now is too low. It's good but its still too low to go commercial.

But GreenSun Energy is just one of many alternative energy companies that are trying to make solar power more affordable.

Their goal is to develop alternative energy technologies that will cost no more than fossil fuels.

But until their panels actually hit the market, it remains to be seen whether the company's colorful vision will become a reality.

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