Renewable Energy Reimagined

Solar panel windows are closer than you think.

Windows may replace solar panels as energy generators within the next decade following an exciting new breakthrough by scientists at Monash University, Melbourne.

The researchers, led by Professor Jacek Jasieniak, have successfully produced solar cells that generate energy while allowing light to pass through. Having made this game-changing discovery, they are now exploring applications of how it may be built into commercial glass products with Australia’s largest glass manufacturer, Viridian Glass.

The idea of solar panel windows has been explored for many years unsuccessfully up until now, as gaining transparent glass that can also power solar has proved a major challenge. A standard residential rooftop solar panel has energy conversion efficiency of 15-20%, and these new panels are able to convert at around 17%, although the rate drops with glass transparency.

“The solar cells can be made more, or less, transparent. The more transparent they are, the less electricity they generate, so that becomes something for architects to consider,” Jasieniak said.

“These solar cells mean a big change to the way we think about buildings and the way they function. Up until now every building has been designed on the assumption that windows are fundamentally passive. Now they will actively produce electricity,” he continued.

Solar tinted windows have the possibility of generating about 140 watts of electricity per square metre, and no doubt will begin transforming multi storey buildings of the future.

The full research paper will be published in the May edition of Nano Energy.