With the steep rise in the cost of energy and concerns about carbon emissions related with energy generation have made homeowners around the world think about generating solar power to fuel their dwellings. However, people who live in separate houses have an option to add solar panels to their rooftops to generate valuable renewable energy, a majority of people who live in apartments don’t necessarily have the required infrastructure.
For such people and for those who don’t want to clutter their rooftops with solar panels, researchers have figured out a way to produce solar power for home using photovoltaic panels that can be installed on windows. Moreover, these solar panels are made using transparent or translucent materials, which don’t block the outside view. Here are some of the finest technologies that have recently been developed to help all homeowners generate renewable energy.
Researchers at the UCLA Materials Science and Engineering department have developed a polymer solar cell, which can produce energy by harnessing infrared light, which is not visible to the naked eye. The photoactive plastic panels harvest infrared light to produce renewable energy and are also 70 percent transparent to the human eye. The breakthrough is based on the use of a transparent conductor, which helps in absorbing near-infrared light but is less sensitive to visible light. The solar panel is touted to have an energy efficiency of 4 percent.
Peer+ has developed an energy generating smart glass that can also change its opacity to filter sunlight and hence keep the interior of your home at a comfortable temperature, thereby saving energy costs as well. The user can make the window go from bright to dark and the amount of sunlight that is blocked by the window also produces renewable energy. The developer is pretty confident about the product and state that the smart glass is the first window with a payback time.
Oxford Photovoltaics, an Oxford University affiliated group has come up with technology that allows organic solar cells to be directly printed over window glass to make energy generating windows. The technology is based on the use of artificial photosynthesis using Gratzel cells. The cells mimic the natural process of photosynthesis where photosynthesis happens due to a dye that releases electrons when sunlight hits it.
New Energy Technologies is a Maryland-based firm that has developed the innovative SolarWindow prototype. The prototype uses a photosensitive film that is directly sprayed onto the surface of glass. Not only is the film nearly transparent, but can generate energy from both sunlight and artificial light. The developing team states that the technology makes use of the world’s smallest organic solar cells and is capable of generating more energy than a regular rooftop solar panel.
Researchers at US DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory have developed thin and transparent films that can absorb sunlight to produce renewable energy over a relatively large area. The film features a semiconducting polymer which is doped with carbon-rich materials to produce energy. The transparent films are ideal for use in energy efficient windows that also generate renewable solar energy.