Skyscrapers could generate their own power thanks to the development of transparent solar panels. An alternative to conventional roof-top photovoltaic (PV) panels, solar panel windows could be used to make more buildings carbon neutral.
The panels have been develoepd by Cambridge-based firm Polysolar, which has launched a funding programme to bring the product to market.
The programme has been launched on CrowdCube, with funds raised intended for manufacturing and development costs. The sum would be added to the £1.5m already invested by the firm into the technology’s design and creation.
Introducing Polysolar’s solar panel windows
Polysolar panels are based on a range of thin-film PV technologies. One panel measuring 1,200mm by 600m can generate an average of 5kWh of power per month – equivalent to half an average home’s power consumption per day.
The company estimates that a building such as the Shard, which has enough glass to cover eight football fields, could generate around 2,500MWh per year if fitted with Polysolar solar panel windows. This is combined with the reduction in air-conditioning loads.
Such an amount would be enough to create a zero-carbon building, or could alternatively provide 1,000 homes with their annual energy needs.
Though a typical panel currently costs twice that of a conventional glass window, the company says the price could fall to a 10% premium on the cost of regular glass once volume production has begun.
Polysolar CEO Hamish Watson said new clean energy products such as solar panel windows have never been more vital, thanks to “ongoing concerns about global emissions targets”. He added that he sees a “huge potential market and an opportunity to make a contribution to saving our planet”.
Market opportunities for solar panel windows
Independent analysis has found that market opportunities for building-integrated PVs could be $26bn by 2022, though this remains a small portion of the overall building glass market.
The panels have already been installed in certain spots around the UK, for instance, in the first solar-powered bus shelter in Canary Wharf, London. They have also been used for the canopies of Sainsbury’s petrol stations and Network Rail building facades, as well as into a series of Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) structures, including curtain wall facades, canopies, skylights, greenhouses and automotive sunroofs.
They have also been deployed in a domestic setting, having been installed as part of a garage roof and workshop in a trial that saw the panels meet the complete power needs of the owner’s home and electric car.
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Polysolar was founded in 2007 with the aim of reducing the energy consumption of buildings without sacrificing their aesthetic or functionality.
While not the first company to target windows capable of harvesting solar energy for commercial use, Polysolar believes it has cracked the problem of creating functional a PV film that doesn’t distort, tint or dim natural light.
This story was originally published on Power Technology, which is part of the Verdict Network. View more power industry stories at power-technology.com