Transparent solar panels: Transforming windows into power sources

FM newsroom – sustainability, solar power, perspectives. Cutting-edge technology changes how we perceive windows and holds immense potential to contribute significantly to the global energy demand from renewable sources. 

Michigan State University (MSU), a pioneer in transparent solar glass window panels, paved the way for the commercial installation of solar windows. Their cutting-edge technology holds immense potential to contribute to the global energy demand from renewable sources. These solar panels, disguised as glass windows, absorb ultraviolet and infrared light – invisible to the naked eye – and convert it into renewable electricity – Happy Eco News reports.

Solar glass windows and related transparent solar technologies could meet around 40% of energy demand in the United States, according to estimates from the MSU team. This contribution could surge to nearly 100% when combined with rooftop solar units. 

Solar farms reimagined

With their expansive glass surfaces, skyscrapers present a significant opportunity to harness solar energy. The abundance of glass in these towering structures has the potential to turn them into “vertical solar farms.” Richard Lunt, co-founder of Ubiquitous Energy and the chemical engineer behind the development of transparent solar cells at MSU, aims to bring this innovative technology to the forefront. These windows generate energy and assist in managing a building’s energy use and comfort, potentially reducing energy costs by up to 30%.

Denmark’s Copenhagen International School is covered in 12,000 “hued but clear” solar glass window panels by KromatixThe building generates 200 megawatts of electricity annually, surpassing half of its energy consumption.

Swiss-based Insolight is focusing on solar greenhouses. Taking the idea of solar farms to its literal definition, the company produces Insolagrin, a semi-transparent solar glass that protects the food crops within, provides natural diffused light, and generates enough power to make the farm operations carbon neutral.

Heliatek GmbH’s partially transparent solar film is used in specific projects like bus stops and noise barriers where pure transparency is not required or desired. Because it is applied as a film, it can be adhered to virtually any surface shape.

The transformative potential 

Solar glass windows also offer an advantage regarding space utilization. Unlike traditional photovoltaic panels requiring considerable space, transparent solar glass windows seamlessly integrate into existing structures.

„The transformative potential of solar glass is that you could turn nearly every surface of a building or landscape into a solar array and generate power right where you use it without even knowing that it’s there” – Richard Lunt pointed out for Happy Eco News

Promising pathway to net-zero

The development of transparent solar cells is not exclusive to MSU. Researchers have also been exploring this technology for years. The global adoption of solar windows represents a significant step toward sustainable energy solutions.

As we move toward a future with increasingly ambitious climate goals, transparent solar panels offer a promising pathway for cities and buildings to achieve net-zero objectives. The unobtrusive integration of solar technology into everyday structures brings us one step closer to a world where energy generation seamlessly aligns with our surroundings, harnessing the power of sunlight through the very windows we look out of.




You might also like