Windows solar collectors might be the option for you. These windows use a transparent technology that allows them to remain see-through, while them into powerful solar collectors.
As Richard Lunt, assistant professor of chemical engineering and materials science at Michigan State University explains, “We can tune these materials to pick up just the ultraviolet and the infrared that then ‘glow’ at another wavelength in the infrared. The captured light is transported to the contour of the panel where it is converted to electricity.
Amazingly, this technology may be even more efficient than rooftop solar panels. The reason is that in buildings such as glass towers, the vertical solar footprint is larger than the horizontal one. As a result, it makes solar windows potentially stronger converters of solar energy.
Even more, older buildings can be made more efficient because the model is placed over existing windows.
As Lunt notes, “If the cells could be made long-lasting, they could be integrated into building relatively cheaply. As much of the cost of conventional photovoltaics is from the materials it is mounted on, like aluminum and glass. Coating existing structures with solar cells would eliminate some of this material cost.”
While Lunt remains hesitant to say whether his technology could power an entire building, he does contend that it could “significantly offset the energy use of large buildings.”
And that would be just another step toward a brighter future.
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