In recent years New Scientist has highlighted the emerging field of Solar Cell Fabrics, a fabric with embedded photovoltaic (PV) cells which generate electricity when exposed to light.
Shade Sails already provide significant environmental and energy saving benefits, however such technology would merge the rapidly growing solar energy industry with the Shade Sail industry and provide a new source of renewable energy for the home. The technology is currently going through commercial testing with concept tents and temporary shelters already available. A company called ShadePlex is apparently developing a product that integrates thin film photovoltaic modules with architectural fabrics and others are also developing similarly exciting products.
It would certainly be a stretch to imagine tensioned shade sails with power cords running inside the posts – but anything is possible !