Solar Boom: Highly transparent solar panels when applied with the rooftop units & systems, could reduce the use of fossil fuels.
In a new research done by a team of American scientists’ states that fully transparent “solar panels” mounted to the existing windows could produce as much power as rooftop solar units and systems.
In a set of studies by engineering researches from Michigan State University recently published in Nature Energy, claims that widespread acceptance of transparent solar panels, along with rooftop unit and system, could closely meet all the United States’ electricity demand.
“Highly transparent solar cells represent the wave of the future for new solar applications.” – stated Richard Lunt (associate professor of chemical and engineering and materials science).
He further said –
“We analyzed their potential and show that by harvesting only invisible light, these devices can provide a similar electricity-generation potential as rooftop solar while providing additional functionality to enhance the efficiency of buildings, automobiles and mobile electronics.”
Lunt was working in a team at Michigan State University that manufactured (in 2014) a transparent, plastic like solar energy collector that could be easily mounted to any number of surfaces.
Such transparent solar PV system uses organic molecules in order to absorb invisible wavelengths of sunlight.
So now the researchers can refrain these materials to pick up just the near-infrared wavelengths and ultraviolet that then turn this solar energy into electricity.
According to Lunt, the main benefit of the solar PV system was the potential for widely scaleable deployment.
Lunt commented –
“It opens a lot of area to deploy solar energy in a non-intrusive way. It can be used on tall buildings with lots of windows or any kind of mobile device that demands high aesthetic quality like a phone or e-reader.”
“Ultimately we want to make solar harvesting surfaces that you do not even know are there.”
Further, he added that – “No one wants to sit behind coloured glass. It makes for a very colorful environment, like working in a disco.”
According to him, the researchers has been able to produce panels with a transparent solar-collecting layer.
Even though, the transparent solar units are still in the development phase, Lunt stated that those solar panels were not likely to ever be as efficient as their opaque, rooftop counterparts.
However, their advantages comes from the much larger surface area that they could potentially occupy.
In different studies, the researchers noticed that there are an estimated 5 to 7 billion square meters of exterior glass surface.
Lunt said –
“Traditional solar applications have been actively researched for over five decades, yet we have only been working on these highly transparent solar cells for about five years”.
“Ultimately, this technology offers a promising route to inexpensive, widespread solar adoption on small and large surfaces that were previously inaccessible.”