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Solar Paint: Is It Possible?

Could solar paint overtake solar panels?

Anna Efetova / Getty Images

The solar boom has funneled billions of dollars into the solar energy sector, and top companies across the world are investing in what is now the cheapest source of energy in the world: solar panels. Though we're huge fans of solar power here at EcoWatch, we won't deny that even current carbon-neutral solar technology has room for improvement. Commercial solar installations can take up large plots of land, and though solar panels have a very long lifetime, they eventually need to be disposed of.

Solar panels and solar roof shingles have been a huge step forward in the fight against reducing fossil fuel emissions, but some challenges still remain. What if we run low on non-renewable resources like silicon and copper that are so important to photovoltaic cells? What about all of the homes with roofs that aren't fit for solar panels? Or all of the other surfaces exposed to sunlight that are unfit for solar panels?

Scientists seeking to answer these questions have been developing ideas to further reduce the expense, size and impact of solar panels. One idea with particular promise and intrigue is solar paint.

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Though officials say they aren't backing down to pressure from protesters and other activists, Detroit announced Monday morning that it will suspend its water shutoffs for 15 days.

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) turned off water service on about 17,000 customers since March, according to The Detroit News.   

“This is a pause. This is not a moratorium,” department spokesman Bill Johnson told the publication. “We are pausing to give an opportunity to customers who have trouble paying their bills to come in and make arrangements with us. We want to make sure we haven’t missed any truly needy people.”

Others don't buy that, and are convinced that pressure from the United Nations, the Detroit Water Brigade, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization and others played a role in the suspension.

About 89,000 customers owe about $91 million to the department, Johnson said. More than 2,000 residential accounts had service cut off in the first two weeks of this month.

"Looking forward, we call on the DWSD to indefinitely suspend all residential shutoffs, restore service to those families already turned off, and immediately begin work to implement an income-based Water Affordability Plan," the Detroit Water Brigade said in a statement. "The DWSD should also hold a week-long public event at Cobo Hall, with extended hours for working people, to give Detroiters an opportunity to enter into flexible payment plans based upon their ability to pay."

The announcement came as some residents filed a complaint in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Detroit. Part of their complaint is that city came down on low-income residents while not shutting off past-due commercial accounts, Bloomberg reported.

“Water service to private residences is the most basic and essential utility service, and is necessary for the health and safety of the residents,” the filing states.

Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, says the suspension is positive news, but should be followed up with an evaluation of how DWSD views access to water.

“We are glad the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department has announced it will suspend water shutoffs for 15 days to allow residents to demonstrate their inability to pay," she said in a statement. "But this is only a small step toward rectifying the problem in Detroit.

“DWSD must take this time to fundamentally reconsider its use of draconian water shutoffs as a means of strong-arming residents who cannot afford to pay their water bills. It must also turn back on the water of those households that have had their water service shutoff."