The idea of a beautiful solar panel probably seems like a bit of a stretch, unless you dig rectangular, mirrored panels. But German architect André Broessel saw a way to make solar collectors beautiful while also making them more efficient. He made them into enormous spheres.
Unfortunately, we probably won't be using them any time soon, as they can weigh several tons.
Most basic solar panels that you'll see on your energy-efficient neighbor's house are laid facing south. These are the cheapest way to go, and they work well enough. There are panels that can track the sun, but those are, as you probably guessed, more expensive.
The solar spheres, as I've dubbed them, are enormous spherical lenses that are solid glass or filled with water. Their shape and material allows them to concentrating all light, even diffuse light, into a concentrated beam. With a moveable solar collector inside that can find its way to that ray, efficiency goes up. About 35 percent.
But, as aforementioned, these babies weigh anywhere from a few hundred pounds to a couple tons. A little heavier than the 5 to 10 pound panels currently in use and not exactly great for roof-placement purposes. Hopefully, in time.