In a few years, the windows will not only let sunlight in, but will also convert it into electric current.
This will be so thanks to new semi-transparent solar cells that can be incorporated into window glass, and that could transform architecture, urban planning and electricity generation, according to the Australian scientists who are the authors of this innovation.
The researchers, led by Professor Jacek Jasieniak from the Exciton Science Center and Monash University, MU, (www.monash.edu), both in Victoria, Australia, have manufactured advanced solar cells that generate electricity while allowing light Pass through them, according to the Australian Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO).
They are now investigating with Viridian Glass, Australia’s largest glass manufacturer, how to develop a manufacturing process that enables large-scale solar window glass to be produced and can be easily transferred to industry so that manufacturers can adopt this technology and integrate it into commercial products, CSIRO reports (www.csiro.au).
The windows offered by the premises and light buildings, with the development of the Australian panels, will also generate electricity.
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PEROVSKITAS: THE FUTURE OF SOLAR ENERGY.
These new solar cells are made with a type of perovskite, considered as one of the most promising materials to replace the silicon with which most of the cells of photovoltaic panels are now manufactured, since it has a higher energy efficiency or capacity of convert solar energy into electricity.
Perovskites are a group of minerals with a crystalline structure, with a good ability to absorb light and conduct electricity, cheaper and easier to produce than silicon and its properties are investigated in laboratories around the world.
It works in the form of sheets and combined with other compounds, with the aim of improving its current-generating property and increasing its resistance to the environment.
New perovskite solar cells developed in Australia will transform windows into active energy generators. So 2 square meters of these “solar windows” will generate approximately as much electricity as a standard rooftop solar panel, according to their researchers.
The idea of semi-transparent solar cells is not new, but previous designs had failed because they were very expensive, unstable, or inefficient, according to CSIRO.
Researchers from the European Graphene Flagship consortium are investigating the combination of peroskites with a compound of graphene and silicon, to develop more efficient solar cells (photo courtesy of Graphene Flagship).
(Ricardo Segura / EFE)
A PROTOTYPE WITH AMAZING RESULTS.
Professor Jasieniak and his colleagues at MU and CSIRO used a new approach, replacing a solar cell component known as Spiro-OMeTAD with one of a new semiconductor material and applying “multi-step heat treatment”, thereby obtaining “Surprising results,” they say.
They explain that these new semi-transparent perovskite solar cells (ST-PeSC) have record energy efficiency, being able to operate in conditions of continuous lighting and high humidity, with great long-term stability.
“It has long been a dream to have windows that generate electricity, and now that seems possible, posing new opportunities and challenges for architects, builders, engineers and planners,” says Professor Jasieniak.
“These new solar cells can be made more or less transparent and, depending on this, generate more or less electricity,” says Jasieniak, noting that “solar windows” tinted to the same degree as current glass windows would generate about 140 watts of current per square meter.
An image of downtown Chicago (USA) What energy savings would you have with the Australian invention for windows?
(TANNEN MAURY / EFE)
“We anticipate that this technology could enter a commercial stage and reach the market in 8-10 years, and it is likely that its first application will be in multi-storey buildings,” Professor Jasieniak tells Efe.
“The current modules (photovoltaic panels) of commercial solar cells on the roofs have around 2 square meters. The small prototypes of solar cells that we have developed offer an energy efficiency equivalent to that of current commercial solar cells ”, he points out.
“Large windows deployed in high-rise buildings are expensive, and the additional expense of incorporating semi-transparent solar cells would be marginal, but with these solar windows the building would get free electricity!”
“These solar cells will mean a great change in the way of planning and designing constructions, since now a building is designed under the assumption that its windows are passive but, from now on, they will actively produce electricity, which could lead to reconsider its position in buildings, to optimize the capture of sunlight, “he concludes.
Buildings like this in Frankfurt, Germany, from Deutsche Bank, with the Australian invention could be self-sufficient in energy.