Transparent Solar Panels can Bring Renewable Energy to any Building

In the technology industry, there are always some developments which might not entirely seem possible at first. A great example comes in the form of recent achievement by Michigan State University researchers. Their plan is to create transparent solar panels which can be placed over a window to harvest solar energy.

Windows Turn Into Solar Panels, of Sorts

As the need for renewable energy sources increases on a global scale, new solutions need to be created to allow for such growth. Despite solar panels being a major success, there are always many options to improve upon existing technology. One also has to keep in mind not everyone can use solar panels at home either. Coming up with creative ways to counter that problem could yield some remarkable breakthroughs over time.

Researchers at Michigan State University have come up with an intriguing approach. Their development of a transparent luminescent solar concentrator effectively creates a viable solution. It can be placed over a window to harvest solar energy. However, it will not affect the overall transmittance of light in the slightest. This solution seemingly offers the best of two worlds.

Ensuring this product is transparent was the key challenge. The team achieved it by using organic molecules capable of absorbing light wavelengths. Even though human eyes detect light, our species does not see the full spectrum. These transparent panels primarily focus on infrared and UV light, All of the captured light is transported to the contour of the panel where it will be converted to electricity.

Such a solution can have many different consequences. Buildings without a suitable roof for solar panels can – in theory – turn every window into a receptor for solar energy. Especially buildings with plenty of glass in their structure would become major recipients of renewable energy. Additionally, the same technology can be used for old buildings. As long as window panes are present, these solar concentrators can be applied accordingly.

There are still a lot of kinks which need to be worked out accordingly. First of all, the cells need to last a very long time, which is not the case at this time. There is also a question as to whether or not these panels can be integrated into windows in an affordable manner. This latter aspect should be possible primarily because existing infrastructures are “coated’ rather than built from scratch.

Determining the commercial viability of these transparent cells will take up some time. If deemed viable, this technology can easily offset most of the energy use of large buildings. For households and store owners, it can help them cut down on regular electricity bills as well. There are a lot of potential consequences to this research, albeit nothing has been set in stone at this time.