These colourful solar panels show that renewable energy can also be aesthetically pleasing.

Marjan van Aubel’s colourful translucent solar panels will dominate the Dutch pavilion at the Dubai Expo in 2021.


Colourful and futuristic.

Solar panels have the particularity of capturing the light of our precious sun and converting it into electricity. That said, the solar panel itself is not necessarily beautiful. To give solar panels an aesthetic boost, designer Marjan van Aubel has created a set of stained glass solar panels that will be part of the Dutch pavilion at Expo 2020 in Dubai.


Made of polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, these lightweight plastic modules can simultaneously produce solar energy and allow tinted daylight to pass through. At first glance, the coloured solar panels look like a modern version of the stained glass often seen in churches.

So, why does it matter?

According to Marjan Van Aubel, attractive sustainable technology is the way to bring about change. “We are not going to change the world with ugly things,” she said. She has been developing solar panels for several years.

They are created using light-absorbing organic dyes that coat tiny particles of titanium dioxide nanomaterial to convert sunlight into electricity. The flexible and inexpensive solar cells are applied to a translucent surface like a sticker. The exhibition will be an opportunity to show the potential of this technology to some of the 25 million visitors expected to attend the event, which has been moved to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.