Sistine Solar is out to change the way people view rooftop solar. Started by MIT graduate students, the company is developing SolarSkin solar panels that can match rooftops or the surrounding environment. This means the solar panels on your roof could look like clay tiles, slate shingles, or even grass.
Inspired by companies like Apple and Tesla, Sistine Solar co-founders Senthil Balasubramanian and Ido Salama aim to combine elegant design with revolutionary technologies. They dream of a world that runs entirely on renewable energy, and felt that more people would get on board with solar energy if the panels were more beautiful. To transform that dream into reality, they teamed up with an artist trained in Italy and an MIT PhD candidate in photovoltaics to come up with a more aesthetically-pleasing design.
Sistine Solar won the 2013 MIT Clean Energy Prize in Renewable Energy and can already count Starwood Hotels and Resorts and Microsoft as future clients. Last fall they received $1 million through the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative to further develop their promising technology. Homeowners have responded positively as well; according to Salama, when they showed homeowners the SolarSkin panels, 98 percent of people said they liked it better than traditional solar panels, and many of those people had “refused solar in the past.”
Sistine Solar’s camouflaging panels have an efficiency of 15 to 17 percent, which is an excellent start. The team said on their website, “We at Sistine Solar are on a mission to showcase the innate beauty of solar energy through stunning design, captivating the world’s imagination and ushering in the era of clean energy. We passionately believe that by designing beautiful products that generate electricity more elegantly, we can capture the hearts and minds of the world, driving the mass adoption of clean energy.”
You can pre-order the panels here; Sistine Solar anticipates SolarSkin will be ready in 2017.
Images via Sistine Solar