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Innovation in Solar Aesthetics for Residential Photovoltaic Systems


e.      Innovation in Solar Aesthetics for Residential Photovoltaic Systems

This subtopic solicits proposals for technologies that improve the aesthetic appeal of photovoltaic systems for use in residential applications.


While the PV market has continued to expand rapidly, the rooftop residential market has not grown at the same pace as the utility PV market, as a percentage of added capacity [1]. A survey of solar installers reported 40% of them consider aesthetics to be key when recommending which panels to install [2]. An NREL survey of potential adopters found that approximately 30% of people stopped considering PV installations due to concerns about aesthetics or the impact on the home’s resale value [3]. Another survey, of residential customers, found customers do not find currently available solar products attractive, ranking appearance a priority above reliability but below efficiency and price [4].


At the same time, the installed cost per watt has remained high, mainly owing to the slower reduction in non-hardware costs for this segment of the market. This could create an opportunity where an aesthetically pleasing solar module, even with a slightly higher hardware cost, could unlock new portions of the residential market that are sensitive to appearances.


Specific areas of interest include but are not limited to:

·         Innovations that greatly improve the aesthetic appeal of a PV installation

·         Innovations that mask the PV installation as some other component of the home or landscaping.


Applications will be considered nonresponsive and declined without external merit review if they do not demonstrate clear innovation compared to the current state of the art, particularly in regard to PV module skins and PV-integrated roof shingles.


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