windy rain solar panels

Quantum-dot solar panels can generate even in wind and rain

Image credit: Dreamstime

New solar power technology has been developed that can produce electricity even during cloudy and wet weather conditions.

The University of Queensland researchers behind the projects described the technology as “British weather proof” and said it is cheaper, more energy efficient and more flexible than traditional solar panels. It can also convert solar energy to electricity in low light conditions.

They said it represents a “significant step” towards making the technology commercially viable and contributing towards global renewable energy targets.

Professor Lianzhou Wang, from the University of Queensland in Australia, who led the research, said: “Essentially, we’ve developed solar technology that is British weather proof.

“It can produce energy indoors or even when it is cloudy and wet.

“It is also printable, flexible and transparent - meaning it could be used as a skin to power next generation electric cars or applied as a film to windows on buildings and homes.”

The technology uses tiny nanoparticles - called quantum dots - that are about five billionths of a metre in size and can be put into liquid form and printed onto surfaces, where they harden to form a flexible layer.

When exposed to solar energy in a solar cell device, these quantum dots pass electrons between one another to generate electrical current.

Prof Wang claims to have achieved a 25 per cent improvement in solar cell efficiency over the previous world record.

He said: “This opens up a huge range of potential applications, including the possibility to use it as a transparent skin to power planes, homes and wearable technology.”

“This new generation of quantum dots is compatible with more affordable and large-scale printable technologies.”

Earlier this month researchers unveiled prototype “anti-solar panels” which will be able to generate electricity at night using waste thermal energy.

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