Thursday, May 01, 2008

Cheaper (and Flexible) Solar Panels

It's the time of the year where the daytime temperature's hovering between 31 to 33 degrees Celsius. I come home to an apartment that feels like a brick oven. The fans are merely circulating the hot air around. I guess if baked potatoes could talk, they'd say "Now you know how we feel, buddy!"

Today I caught another documentary about Alternative Energy. This episode from the History Channel featured Plastic Solar Panels (a research project that has now been commercialised; see and also this article and this one).
Konarka can power electrical devices - Konarka's Technology


That got me to think about Solar Panels.

Imagine, each of my window pane (at least 12 in my apartment faced the sun directly, all day long) capturing solar energy to power some of my household appliances. Perhaps excess energy could be stored in energy-efficient batteries.

But large scale "conventional" solar cell production and installation is more expensive than current oil/ gas-based sources.

Which substantiates the HDB's position, as seen from their reply to a Cut Waste Panel suggestion (dated January 2005).
Based on current technology, the theoretical power generated by solar panels covering HDB rooftops would be only 3% of total electricity demand. In addition, the cost of generating solar energy is higher than that derived from other sources like oil and gas. Hence, for now, it is still not feasible to install solar panels on the roof-tops of HDB flats to cater to the demand of the residents.

Interestingly, in a February 2005 Straits Times article (posted at, an NUS academic argued that while the cost of solar cells were a real concern, one should not merely evaluate its implementation in just monetary terms.

I believe since 2005, HDB's position might have changed slightly.

At an Eco-buildings Conference in March 2007, the Minister for National Development said in his speech:
There will be solar panels to generate energy for lighting in common areas [in HDB estates].

And as I learned from Sparklette who visited the HDB Gallery in April 2007, the (selective) use of solar panels will become reality (if it hasn't by now).

According to this New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) press release (dated July 2007), the Plastic Solar Panels are cheaper and easier to make than conventional solar cells, so much so that:
"Someday homeowners will even be able to print sheets of these solar cells with inexpensive home-based inkjet printers. Consumers can then slap the finished product on a wall, roof or billboard to create their own power stations."

I look forward to that day.


  1. funny you should be talking about solar panels. I've been toying with the idea of making a solar-powered generator to bring to the field on excavations. will be blogging about it soon enough

  2. OK, post your link here if you've blogged it.

  3. No product comes cheap at its initial stage. Remember mobile phone 'tai ko tai'. It is not only bulky but also cost a bomb compared to the present HP. One day I am sure you'll be able to install solar panels on your windows cheaply to provide energy for all your electrical appliances at home.

  4. hmm..think if we all go solar, the price of it will go down yeah? I still believe in the solar thing...just a matter of time I gues...~cross fingers


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