The answer is... for science, of course!
The dark blue or black color you see on solar panels is an anti-reflective spray applied to the silicon solar cells. This helps them absorb more sunlight.
Can solar panels come in different colors?
Yes! There are other solar technologies that come in different colors. Thin film Solar, Dye Sensitized Solar Cells (DSSC), and even silicon cells can come in different colors. Unfortunately, the most efficient solar cells are still the dark blue kind. We are optimistic though! As more research & development happens, efficiency levels of more colorful modules goes up.
...But can solar panels be totally transparent?
The answer is YES! Researchers at the University of Michigan are leading the way.
So, how does it work? The Transparent Luminescent Solar Concentrator (aka TLSC) basically takes light waves shining on it and reflects it to the edge of plastic or glass, where thin strips of conventional photovoltaic solar cell convert it into electricity.
Does it work well? The TLSC-glass is not enough to keep your phone or laptop running YET. But makes sense for new construction of skyscrapers and homes to collect ambient energy. One square meter of this glass charges 20 Watts.
Got a specific question about energy?
Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org & we'll cover it in a future blog post.