Windows are designed to perform two functions — to let light into a building through a wall, while simultaneously insulating the house from outside temperatures. Modern windows even include coatings that further improve insulation and also limit the type of light that enters a home, for example, by blocking UV light and excess infrared light. But what if those windows could accomplish a third function — producing solar electricity?
The See-Through Photovoltaic Cell
Chinese researchers have developed a new type of window that includes a very thin, see-through solar cell that produces a small amount of electricity. Although a modern photovoltaic cell from SunPower is nearly 23% efficient at converting solar energy to electrical power, these window solar cells are only 6.5% efficient. It should be noted, this “solar window” technology is only in the testing stage and has yet to come to market. The scientists were simply demonstrating that the concept of a solar window is possible, and with improvements in the materials used, the efficiency rating is expected to rise. “Their efficiency is improving rapidly, and we expect to be able to continuously improve the performance of this unified solar-cell window film,” says Hin-Lap Yip, a team member on this project.
Even with just slight improvements in efficiency, calculations indicate that a typical home could provide up to half its power needs via solar windows. Whether this technology will be available in the near future or not, Solaron of Sacramento is always looking for new ways to meet our customers’ needs using the fine photovoltaic products of SunPower. Our technicians keep a close watch on developments in the solar industry to provide what we consider the best products available for our clients.