Mankind’s quest for the most efficient way to produce energy has brought the best minds of our species into thinking from different areas where energy can be sourced. Nuclear fission, Wind turbines, Water turbines, Geothermal plants, and Solar Panels.
A recent iteration of these sources is an innovation of harnessing the energy of the sun through Transparent Solar Windows. Does transparent solar window work? In this article, the author will attempt to explain how it works, its pros and cons, its promise, and its possible downfall.
Just like every other attempt to have a more efficient and green way to gather energy, Transparent Solar Windows will be tested not by opinion of business enterprises but facts surrounding its efficiency and practicality. The goal of the technology is to turn ordinary everyday products to electricity generating products.
What is a transparent solar window?
A transparent solar window is a non-opaque window that enables sunlight to flow through while also generating solar power. It’s completely transparent, so you won’t even notice it’s there. Despite the lack of bulky solar panels, it is capable of generating electricity.
Transparent solar windows are a ground-breaking new concept that promises to provide very transparent solar panels that are both energy-efficient and cost-effective. A transparent solar window is a cutting-edge device that transforms windows into power-generating surfaces while maintaining their original transparency.
How does transparent solar window work?
A transparent solar window is a piece of technology that captures the parts of the light spectrum that a human can’t see with their naked eye. It can collect energy from light because it can capture this section of the solar spectrum.
It mostly collects the solar spectrum’s ultraviolet and infrared wavelengths. Following that, the incandescent infrared light is steered to the glass’s edge, where tiny strips of solar cells are intended to convert the energy from the light into electricity. And it all happens through a clear surface, whether it’s a window or anything else.
Why is this cool?
Imagine this, a traditional solar panel is limited by its surface area regardless of the size where its installed. Let us say in a skyscraper, corporations with solar panel technologies will compete to have space to install their panels in the rooftop of the building right?
What if I told you that transparent solar windows do not have that kind of limitation and is actually capable of enveloping the whole skyscraper and using its entire surface area whether vertically or horizontally.
Wait, there is more, what if I tell you that even in indoor setting, transparent solar window Technology can also be used as it does need direct sunlight to work. Awesome, right!
Considering that in buildings, or even ordinary 2-storey household the vertical footprint is by far larger than rooftop footprint. These are the reason why most scientist have positive feedbacks with the current state of transparent solar window technology.
What is the science behind transparent solar window?
At first glance, the concept appears to be something out of a science fiction film. Is that true, though? As our human population rises, the need for more and more homes develops at an exponential rate.
We are becoming ever more dependent on fossil fuels that are both dirty in origin and limited in quantity. When you factor these things in, the pressure to develop some sort of sustainable energy base is going to become critical! That’s where something like a “transparent solar window” comes into play.
How this technology works is explained better in the paper written by Sangho Kim, and quote:
“Today, the imminent climate change crisis demands a shift from conventionally used fossil fuels to efficient sources of green energy. This has led to researchers looking into the concept of “personalized energy,” which would make on-site energy generation possible. For example, solar cells could possibly be integrated into windows, vehicles, cellphone screens, and other everyday products. But for this, it is important for the solar panels to be handy and transparent. To this end, scientists have recently developed “transparent photovoltaic” (TPV) devices — transparent versions of the traditional solar cell.Transparent Solar Cells That Could Unlock new era of Personalised Energy Unlike the conventionally dark, opaque solar cells (which absorb visible light), TPVs make use of the “invisible” light that falls in the ultraviolet (UV) range.” Sangho Kim, Malkeshkumar Patel, Thanh Tai Nguyen, Junsin Yi, Ching-Ping Wong, Joondong Kim. Si-embedded metal oxide transparent solar cells. Nano Energy, 2020; 77: 105090 DOI: … Continue reading-Sangho Kim
Applications of Transparent Solar Window
The technology available in transparent solar windows work with reflective or even ambient light. It does not need direct sunlight to be effective and efficient. With this in mind, it is obvious that there are various applications of this technology even indoors. It simply works from dusk until dawn.
To perfectly get the context on how efficient it is, this technology also allows the manufacturer to produce windows or panels which have irregular shapes. Hence, there is actually no need to require for a very flat surface to install the panels.
Needless to say, it can be easily installed to surfaces like the back of the car or its windows, buses, schools, and skyscrapers. We no longer need to rely on having a flat surface to accommodate also for the weight of heavy traditional solar panels.
Relative to traditional solar panels, transparent solar windows are much lighter and can be installed with minimal structural effect. Applications may be as obvious as providing electricity to everyday demand of ordinary households to as complex as space exploration applications such as reducing the cost of space programs.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Transparent Solar Windows
Okay, I know it sounds like it is already too good to be true. But hold on with this thought, let us say we decided to cover your favorite building with transparent solar windows.
It does not matter whether it is the Burj Khalifa, Sydney Opera House, Empire State, Taipei 101, or the Petronas Towers, it will still look the same! So, aesthetically it has no impact on how we design or even how we convert buildings into adapting to this kind of green technology.
One of the disadvantages of the technology is it is still in its infancy. The efficiency numbers is erratic from one producer or manufacturer to another. The numbers is yet to show that is already a clear alternative and a no brainer choice against traditional solar panels, or even against other green sources of energy.
Ubiquitous Energy is a global pioneer in transparent solar technology, with the purpose of assisting in the fight against climate change by providing totally visible renewable energy to every surface on the planet.
The world’s first invisible electricity-generating alternative to ordinary windows is Ubiquitous Energy’s patented technology, UE Power. For increased energy efficiency, UE Power captures solar energy and acts as an undetectable onboard source of electricity.
Ubiquitous Energy was founded in 2011, having their first prototype devices in 2012. It was able to establish a corporate headquarter in Silicon Valley in 2014. In 2016, Ubiquitous Energy was able to build its first windows prototype.
With an event attended by partners, investors, and local authorities, including the mayor of Redwood City, Ubiquitous Energy commissions its pilot production line, which can manufacture industry standard prototype size (14′′x20′′) transparent solar windows in 2019.
Is transparent solar window an alternative approach?
To give you an honest short answer, not yet! However, it does not mean that it will not be. Just as of this moment, there not enough research to say that Transparent Solar Window is a perfect viable alternative against other more well researched alternatives such as traditional solar panels or any kind of green turbines.
Just like every other technology, there are a lot of doubters with this technology. Personally, I have my own doubts with it, but hey! We should not be so pessimistic about this. To be honest, this piece of technology and development is one of the reasons why I get excited every time I wake up in the morning.
Mankind has never ceased dreaming of a more pleasant and meaningful existence since the discovery of fire. The pursuit of a more comfortable living resulted in the spread of greenhouse gases, which are now wreaking havoc on our world.
Every effort and invention that helps us break free from the chains of the dichotomy between economic growth and environmental concerns is tremendously valued and encouraged.
Although transparent solar windows may have drawbacks, they also offer advantages. It’s sometimes preferable to be a believer than a skeptic, so that opportunities for improvements may have their own way of entering the path of possibilities.
Finally, mankind should never stop the quest for meaningful existence, be it physically for convenience and psychologically for mental prosperity. At the end of the day, inventions and innovation in both realms will benefit all that exist in this world.
|↑1||Transparent Solar Cells That Could Unlock new era of Personalised Energy|
|↑2||Sangho Kim, Malkeshkumar Patel, Thanh Tai Nguyen, Junsin Yi, Ching-Ping Wong, Joondong Kim. Si-embedded metal oxide transparent solar cells. Nano Energy, 2020; 77: 105090 DOI: 10.1016/j.nanoen.2020.105090|
|↑3||Ubiquitous Energy, About|