Transparent solar panels could replace windows

As the world focuses on climate change, alternate forms of energy are taking centre stage. Researchers are also looking at see-through solar panels especially as, in modern society, glass is practically everywhere.

Ranging from the screen of one’s phone to skyscrapers, it is estimated that there are up to 7 billion square metres of glass surfaces in the US alone. Imagine the amount of electricity that could be generated if we could tap into that power!

But it should also be noted that conventional solar panels necessitate a wide setup area, as well as a significant initial cost. Because of these constraints, it is difficult to implement them in metropolitan locations.

Transparent solar panels, on the other hand, can be implemented in these areas, paving the way for net-zero energy buildings and help cities meet climate goals and targets.

And that’s not just on paper – transparent solar technologies are already popping up around the world. The Copenhagen International School’s design utilises 12,000 hued but clear solar panels all over the building, producing 200 MW/hour of energy annually, more than half of the energy the building consumes.

The bio-medical and physical sciences building on the campus of Michigan State University (MSU) was upgraded with the installation of 100-square-foot transparent solar glass panels above the building’s entryway. They will generate enough electricity to power the lighting in its atrium.

However, there are some obstacles standing in the way. Before the technology can be scaled up, scientists need to up its efficiency, as there is an efficiency/ transparency trade-off.

The more transparent the panel is, the less efficient it is, which is why see-through panels are not expected to exceed or replace the standard solar panels we have grown accustomed to. Either way, the technology could potentially help humanity get to a truly sustainable and greener future faster.

They have the potential to shift cities from major energy users to energy providers in an instant and could usher in a new era of clean energy revolution while safeguarding farmland and natural habitats.

Transparent solar is a cutting-edge technology that gathers and uses light energy through windows or any glass surface, regardless of the angle. It has the potential to be a game-changer in terms of broadening the scope of solar.

In terms of engineering, researchers have created several means of transparent solar technology.However, the majority of them function more as a transparent solar concentrator, which means they are made to absorb specific UV and infra-red light wavelengths that are not visible to the naked eye and transform them into energy capable of powering electronics.

This technology is also called photo-voltaic glass, and it is manufactured to provide a ranging level of transparency. Researchers at MSU have already developed an entirely transparent solar concentrator, which could convert almost any glass sheet or window into a PV cell.



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