SOLAR panels could become more pleasing to the eye, encouraging further uptake as a source of renewable energy, thanks to the work of North-East scientists

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Solar panels used in photovoltaics – using the sun to provide electricity – could be printed on a thin film following research by the Printable Electronics Technology Centre (Petec) at NetPark, in Sedgefield, County Durham.

It is thought such technology would bring down the cost of installing solar panels, making it more competitive in price to other energy sources.

It would also make the panels more flexible. Alastair Wilson, co-director of the Photonics and Plastic Electronics Knowledge Transfer Network, sponsored by the Technology Strategy Board, said the move could help encourage further uptake of photovoltaics by enabling the panels to be incorporated into buildings in an aesthetically pleasing way.

It comes as the North-East aims to make itself a centre for the renewable technology industry, opening up business opportunities in the region.

In July, Petec announced it was to receive £12m from the Government and £8m from regional development agency One North East to make Britain one of the top three countries in the world for printable electronics.

The region’s growing role in the field will be highlighted next month at a national photovoltaics conference.

Solar Flair 2009 has been organised by the County Durham Develpment Company, the business support arm of Durham County Council, in its role as the North-East partner of the Electronics Knowledge Transfer Network, which funds the event.

Mr Wilson said: “Printable electronics might be suitable because the technology might be more easily integrated into building products. Not everybody wants a glass screen on their roof. Printable electronics could lend itself to being more integrated in roofing and windows.”

Mr Wilson said this could also encourage more homeowners to take up the technology.

He said: “Obviously a home is a very valuable asset and people will think twice about putting something on their roof that isn’t that aesthetically pleasing.”

Solar Flair 2009 is being held in Hardwick Hall Hotel, Sedgefield, on Thursday, November 19. For inquiries, call Elaine on 0191-370-9559 or email elaine@solarflair09.com

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