Like the idea of solar panels but don't want your house to look like a power station?
New building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) panels can add solar power to roofs and even windows.
BIPV adds photovoltaic technology to normal building materials, such as roof files and sun shades.
Direct your hoof to the sunny side of the roof
Most BIPV panels are made from traditional crystalline silicon cells but next generation systems, such as thin film panels (which should cut weight and boost efficiency) and even third generation organic polymer cells (giving the thinnest, lightest panels) are coming soon.
Solar panels can also now be built in to normal windows. Konarka Technologies has developed a prototype semitransparent coating of organic solar film to turn window glass into a power generator, and that still allows around 80 per cent of light to go through.
Research firm Frost & Sullivan predict the market for BIPV systems will grow by 18 per cent each year for the next five years, driven by government initiatives in Europe, Japan and the USA.
Article continues below