September 10, 2008 | | Comments 6

Solar Power from your Windows

The research and innovation teams working on Solar power are making progress with practical and effective solutions.  Multiple teams across the globe are focused on thinner materials and concentrators that can take sunlight and turn it into electricity.   Marc Baldo at MIT and John Bell at Queensland University in Australia have different approaches but fundamentally the same practical idea.  Instead of solar panels on the rooftop, use the existing window surface to collect sunlight and generate power.

John Bell and team’s work focuses on a thin film of titanium dioxide layered into the window.  This is coated with a dye to increase light absorption.  The windows have slight red hue, but are completely see through.  This same glass could be used on skylights, atriums, doors or windows.  An average home in Australia would require about 10 square meters of this glass to provide it’s power.   Assuming US houses are bigger and we get less sun (a good assumption), you are talking about 10-15 standard double hung windows.

This technology is a few years away from production and you would still need the inverters and electrical systems in the house.  But imagine the possibility for new home, mall, and office building construction.  What premium would they have to pay in price to add this power generation into their facilities?

Marc Baldo and team, approach the problem with different thinking.   It is more of a solar concentrator.  His team still uses the window surface, but instead of a film, they use the absorption dye to push the sunlight to the edges of the surface where solar cells convert the sunlight into power.  The potential for this recent discovery is absolutely huge.

Existing solar panels could add these units on and increase their efficiencies by up to %50.  Any surface where you collecting sunlight could be used.  This approach would lower the cost of solar installations, since it is using many less expensive photovoltaic cells.  Again, timing is three years away.

The discoveries are out there.  We need the initiative and money to get these to market.

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  1. From Solar Power from your Windows « Window Film Online on Sep 17, 2008

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