Solar Selfie module to be unveiled to Californian market

Scientists at the Institute of Research Studies in California, U.S., have developed a new application that enables solar system owners to upload images of themselves on to their PV installations.

The new smartphone-enabled solar panels are installed with micro LCD screens embedded into the semi-transparent solar cells, which display any image uploaded from a connected device.

System owners can select whether each panel displays a separate image, or have the entire solar system display the image in grand scale, forming a mosaic of the selected photo that will be beamed out from one’s roof to annoy, impress or intrigue the neighbors.

Dubbed the "Solar Selfie Module", the application is the obvious next step in the organic (OPV) and building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) sectors, whereby greater flexibility, aesthetics and individuality is increasingly the order of the day.

In addition to greater PV individuality, solar arrays boosted by the beaming visage of the system owner may actually enhance yield, lowering levels of reflectivity and increasing solar absorption rates on particular parts of the image, added the scientists.

"We recommend the traditional arm-slightly-raised angle in order to get the full effect," said Prila Loof, head researcher at the Institute. "Wearing shiny jewelry helps, too, although we warn against the typical pouting lips pose so beloved of most selfie aficionados: a broad, white smile – even better if you can affix some gold teeth or diamonds to your nashers – works best from an efficiency point of view."

The selfie panels have already been installed atop a number of residencies in Burbank, Anaheim and Pasadena, with mixed results. "Ours are working great, but that’s because I closely guard the WiFi password that allows access to the panels, meaning right now our rooftop is displaying a rather flattering picture of me from that trip I took to Rome last year," said Anaheim system owner Henry Brubaker.

However, one household has reported a few teething problems that are still to be ironed out. "My teenage daughter got hold of the WiFi connection and, well, you can imagine," sighed Laurie Cookson of Venice Beach. "Between the constant calls pestering her for dates, I did have one gentleman enquire where we bought our bathroom suite from."

"As the solar market matures, homeowners will increasingly seek ways to personalize their PV installation," said Loof. "The selfie panels are just one way of bringing a touch of personality to one’s rooftop."

Loof added that the technology could be rolled out at large-scale, although reports that Kim Kardashian had signed an image deal with the 550 MW Topaz Solar Project were refuted by Loof. "It’s a big plant," he added, "but it’s not that big."