Scientists develop transparent solar panels that could replace windows in the future

Valdemar Medeiros
03-05-2022 11:37:00
in Renewable energy, Solar energy
solar panels - Transparent photovoltaic-cell - transparent soares panels - solar energy - researchers - scientists Scientists at Michigan State University have created a type of solar cell that can be applied to windows, car windows and other objects – image: Michigan State University

According to scientists, the new transparent solar panels will have the potential to transform cities from large energy consumers into energy providers in an instant, and could usher in a new era of clean energy revolution.

At a time when the world is fighting for a future of low carbon to contain the effects of climate change, solar energy must certainly be one of our strongest allies. Scientists at Michigan State University are trying to prove how viable transparent solar panel technologies are. With the use of a transparent solar panel, it would be possible to generate electricity from the windows of offices, houses, sunroofs of cars and even smartphones.

How do transparent solar panels work?

Transparent solar panel can be integrated into cell phones – Reproduction/Youtube

Transparent solar panels are a cutting-edge technology that captures and uses light energy through windows or any glass surface, regardless of angle. It has the potential to be a game-changer in expanding the reach of solar energy.  

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In terms of engineering, the researchers have created several means of transparent solar technology. However, most of them function more like transparent solar concentrators, meaning they are made to absorb certain wavelengths of ultraviolet and infrared light that are not visible to the naked eye and transform them into energy capable of powering electronic devices.  

This technology is also called photovoltaic glass and is manufactured to provide a variable level of transparency. In 2014, researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) developed the first fully transparent solar concentrator, which could turn almost any sheet of glass or window into a photovoltaic cell. In 2020, scientists in the United States and Europe made 100% solar glass transparent, bringing us one step closer to the goal of a sustainable future that is off the grid of the fossil fuel industry.

What are the advantages?  

Transparent solar panels are incredibly important as, in modern society, glass is practically everywhere. From your phone screen to skyscrapers, there are an estimated 5-7 billion square feet of glass surfaces in the United States. Imagine the amount of electricity that could be generated if we could harness that energy.  

Bearing this in mind, it should be borne in mind that conventional solar panels require a large installation area, as well as a considerable initial cost. Due to these limitations, it is difficult to implement them in metropolitan locations. Transparent solar panels can be deployed in these areas, paving the way for zero-energy buildings and helping cities achieve their climate goals and objectives.

The future of high-tech windows  

This is not just an idea on paper, as transparent solar technologies are already appearing all over the world. For example, the Copenhagen International School project uses 12,000 colorful but transparent solar panels throughout the building, producing 200 MWh of energy per year, which is more than half of the energy consumed by the building.  

In another example that took place last year, the Faculty of Biomedical and Physical Sciences building on the Michigan State University campus was updated with the installation of 100-square-foot clear glass solar panels that were placed over the building's entrance. They will generate enough electricity to power your foyer lighting. However, there are some obstacles in the way.

Before the technology can be scaled up, scientists need to increase its efficiency, as there is a balance between efficiency and transparency. The more transparent the panel, the less efficient it is, so transparent panels are not expected to outperform or replace the standard solar panels we are used to. Either way, technology can help humanity reach a truly sustainable and greener future faster.

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Valdemar Medeiros
Specialist in content marketing, SEO actions and E-mail marketing. And in my spare time, University of Publicity and Propaganda.