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This New Solar Technology Means In Future All Buildings Could Be Energy Self-Sufficient

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Solar panels

A new technology being trialled could soon mean that buildings are easily and cheaply clad in enough solar panels to supply all of their energy, even in places where the sun doesn't shine much.

Polish physicist and entrepreneur Olga Malinkiewicz has developed a new way of coating solar cells with a substance called perovskite, France 24 reports. It makes solar panels cheaper, more flexible and more efficient in low-light areas and comes in different colours.

With the built environment contributing around 40% of global carbon emissions, radical new technology will be needed to reduce the sector’s impact and help meet climate reduction targets.

Perovskite has been around since the early 19th century, but coating stuff with it used to require ultra-high temperatures, making it expensive. But Malinkiewicz’s technology means it can be done at low temperatures, and also in small labs that could be set up on building sites.

Construction firm Skanska is now trialling the new solar cells on the facade of one of its buildings in Warsaw, and it could roll the technology out across its projects in the U.S., Canada and Europe, France 24 reports. It is also being trialled on a hotel in Nagasaki, Japan.

"This will be the world's first production line using this technology. Its capacity will reach 40,000 square metres (431K SF) of panels by the end of the year and 180,000 square metres (1.9M SF) the following year," Malinkiewicz told France 24. “But that's just a drop in the bucket in terms of demand.”

According to her estimates, a single 1.3 square metre (14 SF) panel can power an office workstation for a day. She said the cost would be in line with current solar panels.

"In our opinion, perovskite solar cells have the potential to address world energy poverty," Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne, Switzerland, professor Mohammad Khaja Nazeeruddin said.

"Perovskite technology is bringing us closer to the goal of energy self-sufficient buildings," Skanska Sustainability Manager Adam Targowski said.