Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Clear Solar Panels

I know I’ve written about the potential of clear solar panels before, but here, at Mashable, is a story by Kate Greene about a business that intends to specialize in transparent solar cells:

Most of the transparent solar cells in place now work just by being spread so thin that they ignore most of the available light. Ubiquitous Energy is taking a different tack, focusing on converting invisible light, the infrared and ultraviolet that make up more than half of solar energy on a bright sunny day, while being as transparent as possible to the visible light band that falls in between. Designs published two years ago show 2 percent efficiency and around 70 percent transparency — possibly good enough when you consider that windows have to be installed anyway. But the company is aiming for 10 percent efficiency, and at that level of electric generation, south-facing windows could generate as much as a tenth of an office building’s daytime electricity. Large south-facing office windows should ideally be only 40 to 50 percent transparent, so there may be the potential to boost solar efficiency above 10 percent by dialing back the transparency somewhat.

When transparency can be boosted to about 90 percent, solar cells can be built into video displays. That idea might seem far-fetched at this point, but Ubiquitous Energy thinks it’s achievable, and if they are right, that would be pretty cool.