“This universe is finite. It’s resources, finite.” – Thanos, Avengers: Infinity War
Even with the limited resources we have, we cannot exploit them completely. We also can’t kill half our population like Thanos did, so if we want to fulfill our basic needs, we need to come up with smart ways to use what we are given.
Solar energy is one of the best and most efficient sources of energy available to us from nature but the equipment required to trap the required amount of energy occupies a lot of space. To solve this problem, engineers have come up with the idea of solar windows. This is being produced by Solar Window Technologies, Inc.
What makes this possible?
Liquid Electricity! Engineers apply see-through, electricity generating coatings to glass, which also come in aesthetically appealing colors. When applied to glass, they appear with a pleasant neutral tint, and do not hit the eye. These coatings exponentially outperform the solar cells and photovoltaic systems of today.
How does it work?
Organic polymers in their liquid forms are applied to surfaces as flexible plastics. Fabrication of raw materials which are difficult to turn into liquids are avoided.
Applying liquid coatings on to glass surfaces makes this technology ideally suited for high speed roll-to-roll and sheet-to-sheet manufacturing.
This technique reduces production costs because they do not require expensive high temperature or vacuum production which is inherent in conventional solar technology. They invisibly capture energy from the sun and other light sources and generate valuable electricity.
Is there another way?
Another way to make solar windows is the use of perovskites. They are made of a mix of elements with a particular crystalline structure, and the solar cells made from them are nearly as efficient in converting sunlight to electricity as state-of-the-art silicon solar panels: the best ones convert more than 22% of the energy in sunlight to electricity, compared with 25% for silicon.
Transparency can be controlled by altering their elemental components. Another advantage is they are far cheaper than existing solar cells.
How does this compare to today’s solar power harnessing technology?
In comparison to conventional crystalline and thin-film PV technologies, these window coatings have numerous advantages:
- One, is very obviously that they do not take up extra space. They are see-through, with high level of visible light transmission.
- They are capable of generating electricity even with artificial light.
- Traditional solar cells are made of silicon wafers which are highly expensive and inefficient. This limits their commercial usability.
- Their production cost is much lesser than the other new technologies.
In November 2017, a lead-based perovskite solar window was created which could switch from being transparent to being opaque depending on temperature.
When temperatures are high, the window would darken and absorb light and when temperatures are low, it would turn transparent. The warmed perovskite could transform up to 11.3% of its energy into electricity.
The first installation of these transparent solar power generating windows was unveiled in Eindhoven, south of Netherlands.
The headquarters of Rabobank, Netherlands’ biggest bank was fitted with 323 square feet (30 square meter) of these windows.
The bank’s employees would be able to plug their smartphones into the windows to charge their batteries.
How does this affect the environment and us?
In addition to all the advantages stated above, these windows can generate 8 to 10 watts of power, enabling the user to charge a phone per every square meter [11 square feet] two times a day.
A single installation can avoid 2.2 million miles of vehicle pollution, 12-times more than traditional solar power. This technology enables us to further harness the unlimited solar power we receive.
The possibilities are tremendous and it could be the answer to our energy resource crisis.