Solar panels already in use could soon get a performance boost from stickers that have been newly developed by Genie Lens Technologies. These stickers are composed of a polymer film with patented microstructures that bend incoming light to be absorbed by the panel, and can easily be applied to many types of existing solar modules.
Experts at Genie Lens Technologies point to three main functions of the polymer film stickers that allow them to increase solar output. They prevent sunlight from reflecting off of the solar panel’s surface, and once light passes through the sticker into the semiconductor surfaces of the solar cell, the film traps it there so that it can be efficiently converted into electricity. The stickers also bend light to travel along the surface of the solar panel to be absorbed, rather than allowing it to pass right through the solar cells.
By increasing the amount of absorbed sunlight, the stickers actually lower the cost per watt of solar power, and are relatively cheap to install, compared to inverters and other methods of boosting solar panel output. Genie Lens Technologies has estimated that the cost of the stickers and their application are about one to ten percent of the cost of a solar panel, depending on whether they are installed when the panel is being made or being applied to in-use panels.
With this added cost comes added power, however. The stickers were put to the test at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and on average increased the electrical output of the solar panels by a range of four to 12 percent. The panels even helped capture diffused light on cloudy days, and, in fact, performed best under those conditions, which may increase the appeal of the stickers in areas which do not always have constantly clear skies. By increasing absorption of available light, solar farms could potentially order fewer panels, bringing costs down and lowering the cost per watt even further.
Genie Lens technologies claim that these stickers have a lifespan of around 20 years, meaning they should last as long as the panels they’re applied to, although this claim has not yet been independently validated.