The solar panels that will work even in Britain’s appalling weather

A team based in one of the sunniest places on the planet claims to have invented a new type of solar panel which they claim can produce electricity even in the rainy, cloudy climate of Britain.

As we get closer to a future in which renewable energy is all we have, different parts of the world will have to play to their strengths. Sun-drenched deserts and tropical zones will probably go solar; areas built around geological fault lines may be able to harness the heat that comes from within the earth; and northerly islands battered by the elements will most likely have to do their best with wind and tidal power. This, of course, includes the UK.

But there’s now good news for those who despair at the sight of wind turbines: a team of scientists in Australia has invented a solar panel that they claim is ‘British-weather proof’.

In the UK, where there are, on average, 58 days of sunshine each year, solar power has often been overlooked for the more invasive wind turbine.

That might be about to change, according to Lianzhou Wang from the University of Queensland. ‘Essentially, we’ve developed solar technology that is British weather proof,’ he says.

‘It can produce energy indoors or even when it is cloudy and wet. It is also printable, flexible and transparent — meaning it could be used as a skin to power next-generation electric cars or applied as a film to windows on buildings and homes.’

The technology is also 25% more efficient at producing energy than the current world record, claims Prof Wang, who believes that, in future, it could power ‘planes, homes and wearable technology’.

Such breakthroughs will be increasingly important in future years. Sustainable energy sources are gradually providing more and more of our energy, but big technological leaps will be essential as we move forward.