Brazilian scientists have developed new solar panels technology, which could eventually benefit the UK solar industry.

The development was unveiled at research institute CSEM Brasil, based in Minas Gerais, southeast Brazil, this week.

Scientists have created plastic solar panels, achieved by introducing organic photovoltaic cells into common polymers.

The new cells appear as thin sheets of transparent plastic. Carbon-based polymers that contain the photovoltaic cells create a striped effect on the material.

This is not the first time the technology has been experimented with – teams in Europe and the US have studied the potential for creating thin plastic solar panels. However, the Brazilian team has developed the idea further into a new "solar plastic".

CSEM Brasil chairman Tiago Maranhao Alves said: "While the capacity for power generation is almost the same, its small size means that it can be given uses that are almost impossible for silicon panels."

There are a number of advantages to combining solar cells with flexible material. Its inventors suggested it could be used for everything from homes and cars to smaller electronic devices like mobile phones and computer keyboards.

It could also be used to cover large areas, such as windows, which could massively boost the energy production capabilities of properties.

Mr Alves suggested a two to three square metre piece of the material could meet the power needs of a family of four.

Around $10 million (£6.7 million) has so far been invested in the product and more investment is expected.

Mr Alves added: "We are now going to study the best way to scale up the product. In its current state it could already be launched on the market."

This is the latest green investment in Brazil, following last year's launch of Sustainable Brazil Programme.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Suntech Power Holdings Co is to close its only US-based production centre to reduce costs.