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Windows that act as solar panels could be on the horizon

Windows that act as solar panels could be on the horizon

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Solar adoption is at an all-time high rate in Australia.
There are already two million households that have solar installed and more are joining the party every day. This rate of activity makes Australia a world leader in the space, and it’s looking like a bright path for the near future.

But there’s always a ‘but’. The problem is, not everyone has access to solar energy and for some people, the thought of installing them isn’t that appealing. There are those living in units, townhouses and apartments that can’t access this kind of solution, as well as properties that simply aren’t suitable candidates for an array. In some cases, roofs are covered by shade trees, meaning they can’t absorb enough sunlight to generate a viable amount of electricity.

Hand holding a transparent solar panel towards the sun. Image credit -https://arena.gov.au/blog/transparent-solar-panel-breakthrough-puts-the-future-of-solar-in-clear-view/

A solution could be at hand, though, with scientists in South Korea successfully developing completely transparent panels that can be used as windows. This would allow those unable to currently install systems on their rooftops to sub out their windows for panels instead. From there, the idea is that they’d be able to gain access to clean, green electricity.

Solar windows are a game-changer, but there’s a catch

Okay, there’s another ‘but’.

While the researchers at Incheon University in South Korea have been successful in developing the world’s first fully transparent solar panel, the efficiency rate at the moment is only two per cent, which is not sustainable enough for mainstream release.

Obviously, more research is required, but the fact remains that these clear panels do work. That gives us a real chance of using our windows to create clean electricity in the future.

The reason why normal panels have a tinted colour is because of the semiconductor layers responsible for capturing sunlight and converting it into electricity. In this research, those layers have been replaced with titanium dioxide and nickel oxide, which are mostly transparent.

The research will continue to find out ways to increase the efficiency in these transparent designs, allowing for the potential to transform the way solar energy is turned into electricity. It would mean entire skyscrapers could potentially be turned into power stations, ultimately fast-tracking renewable energy generation all around the world.

Australia’s role in the development

Combined research from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science (Exciton Science) and Monash University is also exploring solar panel window technologies in tandem with one of Australia’s largest glass manufacturers, Viridian.

While these panels are not fully transparent like the ones in South Korea, they do allow light to pass through and have an efficiency rate of 17 per cent which is comparable with standard panels. At the moment they only let around 10 per cent of light through, but the research could lead to windows that would be a viable option for buildings across Australia and the wider world.

Project lead Professor Jacek Jasieniak said the signs were encouraging that transparent windows that harvest and convert solar power looks achievable.

“The semi-transparent cells have a conversion efficiency of 17 per cent, while still transmitting more than 10 per cent of the incoming light, so they are right in the zone. It’s long been a dream to have windows that generate electricity, and now that looks possible,” he said.

Source: energymattersSolar adoption is at an all-time high rate in Australia.
There are already two million households that have solar installed and more are joining the party every day. This rate of activity makes Australia a world leader in the space, and it’s looking like a bright path for the near future.

But there’s always a ‘but’. The problem is, not everyone has access to solar energy and for some people, the thought of installing them isn’t that appealing. There are those living in units, townhouses and apartments that can’t access this kind of solution, as well as properties that simply aren’t suitable candidates for an array. In some cases, roofs are covered by shade trees, meaning they can’t absorb enough sunlight to generate a viable amount of electricity.

Hand holding a transparent solar panel towards the sun. Image credit -https://arena.gov.au/blog/transparent-solar-panel-breakthrough-puts-the-future-of-solar-in-clear-view/A solution could be at hand, though, with scientists in South Korea successfully developing completely transparent panels that can be used as windows. This would allow those unable to currently install systems on their rooftops to sub out their windows for panels instead. From there, the idea is that they’d be able to gain access to clean, green electricity.

Solar windows are a game-changer, but there’s a catch

Okay, there’s another ‘but’.

While the researchers at Incheon University in South Korea have been successful in developing the world’s first fully transparent solar panel, the efficiency rate at the moment is only two per cent, which is not sustainable enough for mainstream release.

Obviously, more research is required, but the fact remains that these clear panels do work. That gives us a real chance of using our windows to create clean electricity in the future.

The reason why normal panels have a tinted colour is because of the semiconductor layers responsible for capturing sunlight and converting it into electricity. In this research, those layers have been replaced with titanium dioxide and nickel oxide, which are mostly transparent.

The research will continue to find out ways to increase the efficiency in these transparent designs, allowing for the potential to transform the way solar energy is turned into electricity. It would mean entire skyscrapers could potentially be turned into power stations, ultimately fast-tracking renewable energy generation all around the world.

Australia’s role in the development

Combined research from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science (Exciton Science) and Monash University is also exploring solar panel window technologies in tandem with one of Australia’s largest glass manufacturers, Viridian.

While these panels are not fully transparent like the ones in South Korea, they do allow light to pass through and have an efficiency rate of 17 per cent which is comparable with standard panels. At the moment they only let around 10 per cent of light through, but the research could lead to windows that would be a viable option for buildings across Australia and the wider world.

Project lead Professor Jacek Jasieniak said the signs were encouraging that transparent windows that harvest and convert solar power looks achievable.

“The semi-transparent cells have a conversion efficiency of 17 per cent, while still transmitting more than 10 per cent of the incoming light, so they are right in the zone. It’s long been a dream to have windows that generate electricity, and now that looks possible,” he said.

Source: energymatters

Anand Gupta Editor - EQ Int'l Media Network