There’s a saying about having your pie and eating it, but a team of researchers from the Monash University in Australia are ready to debunk it, at least as far as solar cells go. More specifically, a team of researchers led by professor Jacek Jasieniak has developed a semi-transparent solar cell that could be used on the windows of buildings. This way, the dwellers would be able to enjoy the view outside as well as to let some light in, while the windows will be generating electric power by capturing some of the incoming light.
The team is already collaborating with “Viridian Glass”, Australia’s largest glass manufacturer to explore the commercial possibilities of their solar cells.
Their first actual tests have shown that two square meters of a solar window would be able to generate as much electricity as a conventional solar panel installed on the roof. From a performance perspective, the new solar cell is impressive, reaching an efficiency of 17%, which is comparable to rooftop panels.
Jasieniak explained that the more transparent you go, the less efficient the panel gets, which is understandable. Approaching the matter from a realistic perspective, all buildings use some tint on the windows, so nobody aims for a fully transparent glass anyway.
For an opaqueness level that is similar to what we see right now on most high-rise buildings (90%), the solar cell windows would generate approximately 140 Watt per square meter. If one was to install such windows on a multi-story building with large window panels, the amount of electricity would make the investment a no-brainer.
However, Jasieniak estimates that no product can be made commercially available in less than ten years from now, so we will have to rely solely on rooftop solar panels for a little while longer.
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