Sunday, June 5, 2011

Windows Transforming into Solar Panels


There has been a new development in the solar industry that could make great advancement in producing large amounts of solar energy. There has been a new class of transparent photovoltaic cells has been developed that could make an ordinary window into a solar panel. This is a great advancement because in the near future skyscrapers could be transformed into giant solar collectors.  

There have been previous attempts at transparent solar cells, but have either failed to achieve high efficiency or blocked too much light to be used in windows. The new solar cells are based on organic molecules similar to dyes and pigments are designed to absorb only the near-infrared spectrum and the ability to transform light into electricity with a relative high efficiency. The current efficiency of cells are only about 2 percent, but doing some modifications could increase efficiency to 10 percent, Dr, Lunt said.

The biggest challenge in developing an industrial application lays on if the new solar cells being able to last the same about as regular windows. Vladimir Bulovic, a professor of electrical engineering at M.I.T who collaborated in the development stated that the solar cells would have to last at least 20 years.  He also stated the problem of longevity was not an extraordinarily difficult problem to overcome.  The problem could be expected to fix within less than a decade.

If the transparent cells are proven to be made commercially able, the power they create could potentially offset the energy use of large building. This advancement is not will not supply ALL the energy needed to run a building, but would be enough for things like lighting and powering everyday electronics.  This is a great movement, but this will defiantly not fix our energy crisis. The department of Energy provided funds for the research. 

Isai Montes De Oca 

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