Exciting new research has opened the world to the possibility of a transparent solar cell. Being able to generate renewable solar energy from a transparent, or partially transparent glass-like substance, is quickly changing the way the world thinks about renewable energy. Let's take a look at just some new technologies that are creating a buzz in the renewable energy industries.
Recently, a German company called Heliatek GmbH, has created a partially transparent solar cell. This cell allows about 40% of the sunlight to pass through the solar panel, absorbing 60% of sunlight. This absorbed light is then transferred into energy, with about 7% efficiency. Compare this number to a typical functioning solar panel that has about 12% efficiency.
The company explains that the difference in efficiency is due to the transparent cell not absorbing 100% of the solar potential, like a conventional panel would. These partially transparent panels have great potential to create sustainable buildings reliant on renewable energy sources. Most large, south-facing office buildings use tinted glass already to reduce the amount of sunlight entering the building. With these new panels, not only could offices still maintain tinted front-facing windows, but they could also absorb sunlight to transform into usable energy throughout the building.
If the building in question requires a fully transparent window, there may be a solution. Using organic salts, developers at Michigan State University have been able to create a fully transparent glass that converts sunlight into usable energy. These solar cells use light that is not in a visible wavelength, such as ultraviolet light. Light is absorbed by the organic salt, moved to the outer rim of the panel where there are photovoltaic solar cells, and then converted into energy. These new transparent solar cells are about 1% efficient, but have the potential, with revamped design, to improve to 5% efficiency.
While a 1% and 7% efficiency seems to be discouraging, consider the expanded opportunity to use transparent solar cells. By now being able to convert an entire front of a building, inclusive of windows, to active solar panels, the possibilities are endless. A 7% conversion can go a long way with several transparent solar panels in place. The idea of being able to use transparent solar cells can extend beyond building practices, as well. Now applications such as a solar panel sunroof in a car, or touch screen panel on a smartphone can have real world renewable energy implications.
At Gausman & Moore, we like to stay at the forefront of new technologies, especially technology that can change the way we view renewable energy. Transparent solar cells have the potential to completely revamp the building industry and pave the way to create net-zero buildings.
Our team at Gausman & Moore cares about creating sustainable buildings to help our environment. To learn more about our team, contact our team today, and learn how we can help on your next sustainable project.