Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay has developed a technology that allows colour coating of solar glass buildings without affecting their energy-harvesting property.
The institute has patented its ‘nanophotonic coating’ technology and will soon launch a startup that would take this technology to the commercialisation stage.
At present, more than 90% of the solar market consists of silicon solar cells, which are used as rooftop or stand-alone systems. Lending colour to solar cells results in very high reflection losses, causing the solar cells beneath to fail.
“But our solution overcame this problem by using nanophotonic coating. Not only will users be able to customise the colour of the solar modules but they will also be able to use the vertical space of buildings,” said Aldrin Antony, a national solar science fellow working at IIT-B’s energy science department.
The technology uses conventional solar cell to integrate into buildings as architectural glass for building fenestrations like windows, facades, roof shingles, etc. The invention consists of a nanophotonic coating named SMART (selectively modulated aesthetic reflector technology). “It is the technological secret to fabricate coloured solar modules,” said Antony.
IIT-B’s invention has piqued the interest of several glass manufacturers who have approached it for partnership. “Talks are on with international and Indian glass manufacturers,” said Antony.
In India, the dominant players in the glass segment are Asahi, Saint Gobain and Gujarat BorosilBSE 0.16 %. “We would prefer to partner with Indian stakeholders,” Antony said.
As part of the technology, nanophotonic coatings are mixed to generate different coloured appearances for solar modules. The institute is also in talks with the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) for financial support. Research for the technology was carried out at the institute’s National Centre for Photovoltaics Research and Education.
IIT Bombay researchers presented this technology at the European Photovoltaic Conference in Munich, 2016, and in the IUMRS conference in Singapore.
“I feel our work has been in line with the government’s policy of ‘make in India’. With more support from the government to promote development of such technology within the country, we can achieve wonders,” said Antony.
Antony left his job in solar energy research and permanent residency in Europe to join the National Solar Energy Mission research in India as a national solar science fellow. The fellowship, awarded by the President under the MNRE, is for five years —2012 to 2017.