Solar power in an aerosol can? If recent advancements are any indication, the solar industry may be getting close.

It’s the nature of renewable-power industries to innovate. Innovation leads to optimization, and optimization leads to cost savings, which leads to competitiveness with other entrenched, mainstream sources of power.

Ever striving to overcome high production and installation costs, the solar-power industry is always seeking less intensive, cheaper and more efficient ways to generate electricity. Along those lines, thin-film photovoltaics may have been one of the latest and greatest breakthroughs. Now, one company may have bested even that.

Last month, Florida-based New Technologies Inc. unveiled technology that enables glass to generate electricity through spray-on solar cells. The SolarWindow aims to provide solar energy to building facades by spraying an electricity--generating coating onto glass. The company estimates a potential annual cost-savings for buildings where the technology is installed of between $40,000 and $70,000, compared to only $20,000 in savings from traditional rooftop solar systems.

One of the greatest advantages the new application holds over traditional systems is that it can be applied to the entire exterior window surface area of a commercial skyscraper, as opposed to the limited space of the building’s rooftop.

It also holds the potential for tremendous savings in the production and installation phases because it can be sprayed on at room temperature, unlike traditional systems, which require expensive high-temperature or high-vacuum production methods and are costly and labor-intensive to install.
New Technologies boasts that the product is composed of the world’s smallest functional solar cells, which measure less than one-quarter the size of a grain of rice. Recently, the company also found a way to replace the metal contact for electricity collection with transparent, environmentally friendly compounds that do not block visibility through the windows.