Transparent solar panels are being developed that could be used as regular windows, generating electricity for a building while still letting in light.

Polysolar is the main company in the UK that manufacture and supplies these types of solar panels for commercial use, and they are currently being trialed in a number of buildings.

The benefits of using solar panels built into windows are many-fold. For a start, they would generate electricity without taking up any extra space on the building, as they would be replacing existing windows.

This would make them ideal for use in city centers where there is little space for traditional solar panels.

They would also be very efficient as they would be able to capture light from all angles, not just when the sun is directly overhead. And because they are see-through, they wouldn’t block out any views or natural light.

How Exactly Do Solar Panel Windows Work?

Solar windows technology is based on the use of photovoltaic cells, which are made from materials that convert sunlight into electricity.

The cells are embedded into the window panes in a honeycomb-like structure.

The most common type of cell used is made from silicon, but the new generation of solar windows uses perovskite cells, which are made from a cheaper and more efficient material.

Perovskite cells are able to absorb light more effectively than silicon cells, and they are also better at converting it into electricity.

This means that they are much more efficient at generating power, and can do so even when the sun is not directly overhead.

When it comes to producing poly solar glass, Polysolar generally uses thin-film photovoltaic (PV) technology.

This is known as BIPV photovoltaic solar glass. The substance utilized to create the thin film cells is ideal for BIPV solutions since it allows them to generate transparent or opaque cells for solar PV panels.

As a result, they are ideal for a variety of purposes, including:

  • Facades
  • Canopies
  • Skylights
  • Curtain walls

Related: Solar Panel Statistics

What does PV stand for?

PV stands for photovoltaic, which is the process of converting sunlight into electricity.

Related: Lifecycle of solar panels

Solar Windows Pros and Cons

The Advantages

  • Use of natural daylight for power generation

Since we are using natural daylight to generate electricity, this means that we are not creating any carbon emissions.

  • Aesthetically pleasing

Solar windows can actually improve the look of a building, as they let in light while still providing a power source.

  • Reduced reliance on the grid

Typical with any solar installation, solar windows can help to reduce a building’s reliance on the grid.

  • Good performance at poor angles

Since windows can be mounted at different angles, the high efficiency of the thin-film solar cells can capture the sunlight at the best angle. As a result, there is more opportunity for installation, including the placement of solar panels vertically on structures without reducing energy output.

  • Efficiency in low lighting

Thin-film solar cells can function in as little as 10% sunlight. This extends the amount of time during the year when electricity may be generated, resulting in a steadier energy yield. The thin-film alignment will also minimize the effect of shading on panels.

  • Heat tolerance is excellent

Thin-film solar panels are less sensitive to heat. As a result, they will not require any ventilation in order to function at their peak potential. Thin-film also works at a greater efficiency over a broader temperature range. This implies that they will deliver the greatest amount of energy from their energy-generating capacity.

  • Comparable costs

The initial cost of installation is comparable to that of traditional building materials. Their extra multi-functionality, on the other hand, makes them a more economically advantageous option.

  • High-quality strong materials

These windows are also extremely sturdy and rigid, with laminated glass that aids in the overall performance of the window. It also helps raise their adaptability for installation purposes.

Related: How Much Do Solar Panel Systems Cost? (PRICE CHECK)

The Disadvantages

  • High initial cost

Solar windows are still a new technology, and so they are currently quite expensive. However, as they become more widespread, the price is likely to come down.

  • Not suitable for all buildings

Solar windows work best on south-facing walls that get lots of sunlight. They would not be suitable for north-facing walls or for buildings that are mostly in shade.

Cost and Efficiency

The most recent design from Polysolar includes a layer of thin photovoltaic in the center of each glass panel. This design costs £250 per square meter and produces efficiency levels of 12% to 15%, considerably more than a normal thin-film solar panel.

The original orange model only cost £175 per square meter, but it was only able to achieve efficiency levels of about 9%.

One of the nice things about these panels is that while they are transparent, they are also able to regulate glare and minimize heat gain. This is a major advantage when it comes to energy savings in a building.

Polysolar’s next goal is to create a totally clear solar panel, with no tinting. While the transparent luminescent solar concentrator was developed at Michigan State University in 2014 and had efficiency levels of 1%, it was only able to produce electricity at night.

The transparent panel over the windows directs infrared light to solar cells placed at the perimeter of the concentrator.

While there is still a long way to go in terms of a completely transparent panel, Polysolar’s research and development efforts continue strongly.

They have developed flawless organic PV glass on a tiny scale using current technology.

Common Applications

Common applications include:

Solar panels on a conservatory roof

If you think about it logically, this would be the best use for solar windows. A conservatory is a glass room, so by having solar panels on the roof, you would be able to generate a lot of electricity without affecting the light that comes into the room.

Solar windows on a south-facing wall

This is another great option for generating electricity without compromising on light or views.

Solar windows on a commercial building

Commercial buildings often have large south-facing walls, making them ideal for solar windows. They could also be used on the roof of a commercial building.

FAQs

Can you get solar panel film for windows?

You can get solar film, but it does not generate energy. The solar film works similarly to a mirror, reflecting the sun’s rays back. This keeps the rays from entering your office – some solar films can even absorb up to 99.9 percent of UV radiation. If a solar film isn’t reflective, it absorbs rays.

Can you get solar panel window blinds?

Solar shades or, more accurately, solar panel blinds are the newest innovation that helps us to go greener by converting sunlight into power. These solar blinds are solar panels that have been transformed into window sunshades. Solar blinds, as a result, provide all of the benefits of solar panels while also offering additional advantages.

How long do solar windows last?

Solar panels have a lifespan of 25 to 30 years, according to several studies. This is welcome news for individuals who are concerned about the longevity of their solar system. Even better, the panels will not simply cease operating after many decades.

Reference:

Main Image – Polysolar.co.uk

About the Author

Passionate about helping households transition to sustainable energy with helpful information and resources.

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