Solar panels clearly in sync with surroundings

ITALY • In historic centres and buildings throughout Europe, obtaining permission to install a solar photovoltaic (PV) roof can be a complicated process.

Aesthetic landscape constraints are often so strict that the limitations become prohibitive, unless the solar cells are invisible.

Now Dyaqua, a family-owned company in Vicenza, Italy, has created a product called Invisible Solar, a PV roof tile unlike anything else on the market.

Mr Giovanni Quagliato, a Vicenza-born artist who specialises in creating epoxy resin artwork, discovered the secret to giving a totally natural look to polymeric compounds, while keeping them transparent to light.

However, the PV products are yet to be financially sustainable, as they require an exorbitant amount of manual work.

So far, there aren't any machines capable of replacing the careful hand of man in applying different layers of resin at varying densities, with the right curvature for the perfect roof tile.

"To accelerate production and keep up with demand, we would have to invent machines that integrate or replace manual work," said Mr Quagliato.

Only in this way can mass production be achieved, contributing to lower prices and increased product competitiveness with large producers, such as Tesla's Solar Roof.

But Dyaqua lacks the funds to invest in a machine. Mr Quagliato's children, Matteo and Elisa, have launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to try and raise US$20,000 (S$28,000) to pay for one.

"Invisible Solar is my dream of a healthy world," noted Matteo, "where technology has the natural appearance of our landscapes."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 24, 2017, with the headline 'Solar panels clearly in sync with surroundings'. Print Edition | Subscribe