Can a New Clear Solar Panel be a Game Changer?
|A screenshot of Richard Lunt and a new type of solar panel glass, from a Digital Trends informational video about his research.|
Assistant Professor Richard Lunt seeks to turn “solar farms into solar cities” with the new material, saying the buildings will look exactly how designers want them and the new type of glass won’t be noticeable. Lunt was recently awarded the 2015 Ovshinsky Sustainable Energy Fellowship, which supports research in energy sustainability.
From the article: “Versions of previous semi-transparent solar cells that cast light in colored shadows can usually achieve efficiency of around seven percent, but Michigan State’s [transparent luminescent solar concentrator (TLSC)] is expected to reach a top efficiency of five percent with further testing (currently, the prototype’s efficiency reaches a mere one percent). While numbers like seven and five percent efficiency seem low, houses featuring fully solar windows or buildings created from the organic material could compound that electricity and bring it to a more useful level.”
Harvesting electrons in the current high performance windows would elevate fenestration into a new whole new bracket of sustainability and competition among other energy saving building products. Will this solar cell technology be affordable? And durable? And perhaps most importantly, will the percentage of conversion to electricity provide an adequate return on investment for the homeowner or the commercial building owner?