As much as I dig photovoltaic panels as promising solution to the renewable energy problem, let’s face it: the things are kind of ugly. And despite the fact that prices have come way, way down, even a photovoltaic solar solution for a single residence is still out of the affordability realm for most families. So imagine trying to provide photovoltaic power for a large commercial building.
Actually, Oxford Photovoltaics looks to have developed a solution that addresses both of those concerns. Via The Guardian comes this piece about printed colored glass that, when used for windows, actually turns an entire building into a pretty solar energy collector. And best of all, this solution relies on none of the rare earths and scarce materials used to make traditional PV panels, and only adds about 10% to the cost of the glass:
The technology works by adding a layer of transparent solid-state solar cells at most three microns thick to conventional glass, in order to turn around 12% of the solar energy received into low-carbon electricity. The power can then be exported to the national grid or used for the running of a building.
The solar glass can apparently be dyed almost any color, and different colors transform sunlight into clean, renewable energy with different levels of efficiency. Black glass is of course the most efficient, with green and red being a little less so, and blue glass apparently not being so great by comparison.
The company just received a £2 million shot in the arm, which will pay for equipment and staff. Plans are to produce A4-sized samples of the photovoltaic glass by the end of 2013, and full production-sized samples for trials by the end of 2014, with an eye toward new construction mostly, but the company is eager to get into the retrofit business, as well.
Via: [The Guardian]