Solar panels that blend in with white roofs now available
A solar panel supplier has offered a product designed to blend in better with the island’s traditional white roofs.
Cameron Smith, the executive director of Greenlight Energy, said the company had already pre-sold half its first shipment of white solar panels, which is scheduled to arrive on June 1.
Mr Smith added the look of normal solar panels had been “a slight detractor” for some people.
But he said: “We’re betting there will be high demand.
“Introducing white panels for white roofs means increasing the appeal for a wider audience in Bermuda.
“In so doing, we’re reducing Bermuda’s reliance on fossil fuels for power.”
The photovoltaic panels that convert sunlight to electricity are usually dark-coloured, partly because darker surfaces are better at absorption of the solar radiation that creates electrical power.
Mr Smith, who spotted the white panels in an industry magazine, said he had noticed a generational divide on the technology on the island.
He added: “People my age think solar panels are cool.
“When you get a few years older, some people are more traditional and would prefer to preserve the aesthetics of their home.
“What we’ve historically done in these cases is install the black panels in places where they’re less visible.
“But that reduces the amount of square footage for solar panels.”
Mr Smith said the question of less intrusive solar panels has been coming up since Greenlight opened for business in 2016.
He added: “It didn’t look possible. But in the background, we were looking into it.”
Greenlight discovered Slovenian-based manufacturer, Bisol, which built panels that fitted in with traditional European roof colours – including white.
Mr Smith said: “We reached out to the company saying ‘there are white roofs in Bermuda and we think there’s a big market in this’.
“Bisol is a pioneer in solar but this product has been around just over a year, and the demand is higher than the company would have imagined.”
Mr Smith said winning an exclusive contract with the manufacturer meant Greenlight had to pre-order “a couple of containers” of panels.
But he added the white solar panels had proved popular with customers before they’d even seen them.
Mr Smith explained: “They cost about the same as our regular 430 watt solar panels.”
He admitted: “They’re less efficient than the high power black solar panels.
“So what we’re recommending to clients who have a preference is to have white panels in the most visible places and the higher power black panels everywhere else on their roof.”
Mr Smith said Greenlight would be able to “better organise procurement” as the company learnt more about demand.
But he added the firm expected to bring in shipments every quarter.
Mr Smith said Interest in renewable energy continues to grow and the company has hired additional staff, including solar installers.
He added: “All in all, we’re excited about it.
“It does away with the pushback on solar panels, so it’s promoting renewable energy in Bermuda.”