The Green Series: The Future of Solar Panels (Part II)

By Ariana Sadr-Hashemi, Trainee Patent Attorney

In our second instalment of the Green Series’ look at solar panels, we’re going to be considering how they can be made more cost effective. Currently, solar panels in the UK are thought to cost £5940 for the average household. This price is determined by the amount of electricity needed by the household, which in turn determines how much roof space is needed for the solar panels. The cost reduces for smaller households, but a single adult may find a solar panel cost of £1562 to still be prohibitively expensive.

Solar panel costs have reduced over time, as the solar panels themselves become more efficient. However, initial installation costs can also be a significant barrier to wider solar panel usage. Here are some inventions intended to reduce solar panel installation costs.

1) Weighted Solar Panels

US2005217716A1 discloses a solar panel with a mounting rack comprising an integral weight. In older systems, a separate weight is needed to avoid the solar panel being moved by wind. This is done by drilling a hole into the roof. By having the weight be integral to the mounting rack, the number of components needed to install the solar panel is reduced and the solar panel can be installed by simply placing it on a flat roof rather than drilling into the roof.

2) Simple Stacking

US2012024350A1 discloses a solar panel designed to be more efficient to package and transport. The solar panel comprises a photovoltaic panel and a plurality of module mounting frame segments, wherein the photovoltaic panel is held in place on a rooftop by the frame once installed. The frame segments and photovoltaic module are designed to stack as efficiently as possible, improving space efficiency when packing and transporting and hence reducing the packing and transporting costs of the modules.

3) Hybrid Roof Tiles

WO2017168277A1 discloses a roof panel with integrated solar modules. By having the solar panels integrated with the roof tiles, an additional installation stage for the panels is not needed. There is also no need for additional components to attach and anchor the solar panels to the roof. However, the tiles themselves may be more expensive than traditional roof tiles.