Windows as Solar panels

Sustainability problem:

Large commercial estates consume a lot of energy and in order to make these buildings energy neutral through use of solar panels, there is either insufficient roof surface or the cost of installing solar panels is too high.

Area of Sustainability: Energy

Technology:

  • A tech startup ‘Physee’ has designed a transparent solar-powered double paned window product called PowerWindows that can convert light into electricity and can generate enough power to make buildings energy neutral. The windows have solar cells installed in the edges at a specific angle that allows the incoming solar light to be efficiently transformed into electricity.
  • The cost of the wiring that brings power from the grid to such windows is considerable in large commercial estates, and investing in power-generating windows would currently be more feasible for commercial use.
  • PowerWindows can be integrated with SmartWindows, which is another product that has integrated smart sensors in the window that sense the outside environment. SmartWindows control inside systems, such as air-conditioning and sunblinds, based on information about the outside conditions around the building.
  • Another product is being developed that would be coated with a special material that transforms incoming visible light into near-infrared light. This is then transported toward the solar cells in the edges of the windows. This second generation is expected to triple the energy efficiency. The coating is based on the rare-earth metal thulium that has the ability to transform a broad spectrum of light into near-infrared light.

Articles:

https://www.livescience.com/59683-windows-double-as-solar-panels.html

http://www.climate-kic.org/start-ups/powerwindow/

Organizational stakeholders:

Real Estate owners, Energy companies, Commercial and Government establishments, Utility companies, Window Glass manufacturers, Educational institution, Media

Next steps:

  • PowerWindows is patented. Activating a buildings’ facades with solar cells will significantly contribute to making any building energy neutral. The windows can provide 50W per square meter, which can compensate up to 75% of the energy consumption of buildings, unlike solar panels that have a limited surface area for buildings or alternative smart window solutions that have low conversion efficiencies. A user can charge a phone per every square meter [11 square feet] two times a day by plugging their smartphones into the windows using USB ports.
  • A luminescent thin-film coating to produce clear and colorless windows can be integrated in the design of any building without compromising the functionality or esthetics thereof, making it highly suitable for the built environment.
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