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Transparent Solar Panels Might Reach Consumers Near Future

The cost of producing solar energy has dropped significantly in recent years, making this renewable energy source not only good for the environment but also good for your budget. Designers and engineers are currently working on the next phase, in which these panels can be fitted into standard windows. To do so, the panels must be transparent, which presents a substantial challenge.

In the current design of solar panels, the opacity of the solar cell is employed to gather as much energy as possible, which is then used to generate electricity. As panel opacity decreases, so does energy conversion efficiency. Businesses, on the other hand, are coming up with new techniques to keep the panels transparent while still extracting a lot of energy from them.

This is the ninth post in Interesting Engineering’s series highlighting the top inventions of 2022. Return to discover more about cutting-edge 3D printing techniques, revolutionary solar panels, and much more.

How Do Translucent Solar Panels Generate Power?

One method of generating solar energy from a transparent window is to sandwich a layer of light-absorbing material between two glass panes. According to UbiQD, a Los Alamos-based business, the layer gathers solar light and internally reflects it to the edges, where electricity can be generated.

Another option is to cover the window with a transparent covering that collects solar energy. Ubiquitous Power, a Redwood City-based company, use this method to capture the infrared and ultraviolet bands of sunlight while allowing the visible spectrum to pass through.

Both of these companies’ products are nearing completion after extensive testing at various locations. This means that by 2023, you should be able to order them for your family or company needs in order to take advantage of the abundant solar energy without having to install massive solar panels.

What About Energy Conversion Efficiency?

These windows have a maximum energy conversion efficiency of 5%, which is less than a fourth of the energy conversion efficiency of current commercially available solar panels. In absolute terms, this may appear to be a horrible deal. However, clear solar windows let you maintain the beauty of your building and do not require specific locations on your rooftops.

Instead of using the rooftop to store solar panels, an office building with a front made of transparent solar windows may use it for something else. Solar windows will undoubtedly cost more than ordinary windows, but they will also offer a lot more features than their non-energy generating counterparts.

Transparent solar windows should offer improved conversion efficiencies as technology advances, increasing the sustainability of your home or place of business.

This is the ninth post in Interesting Engineering’s series highlighting the top inventions of 2022. Return to discover more about cutting-edge 3D printing techniques, revolutionary solar panels, and much more.

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