According to a UK scientist Dr. Dave Worsley, commercial panels of architectural steel, painted with special solar-power paint capable of generating electricity should be available in as little as two and a half years. Dr Worsley and Dr Trystan Watson of Swansea University have developed a new paint based on dye-sensitized solar cells. This new solar paint is a result of previous research into different ways of preventing metal buildings from degrading due to the elements. Dr. Worsley describes the idea as “a collision between two existing technologies – one for generating electricity and one for applying paint to steel.”
The paint works by giving energy boosts to free electrons causing them to jump from dyed titanium dioxide into a layer of electrolyte. This causes excess energy to flow into the collecting circuit before the electrons jump back into the dyed titanium dioxide pigment. This process, unlike typical silicon based photovoltaic cells, where the suns energy is absorbed, is less efficient, however this also means that expensive solar grade silicon is not needed thereby lowering the cost.