Solar Windows

Windows are, by their nature, solar devices, as the Romans discovered when glass was first used, and as cats and humans know who bask in their warmth. Driven by the world wide energy crisis, science is taking the contribution of window glass to whole new heat.

General Electric singled out Pythagoras Solar this week for a $100,000 award for its innovative embedded solar-cell window design

The idea is that the window lets in less light, while still being transparent, so buildings get needed shade during hot sunny hours, reducing their air conditioning use and making the building more energy-efficient. At the same time, the panels produce solar power, which the building can use for electricity. The company is currently targeting architects and commercial building owners. Reuters

This is not the only idea at work, however:

…the Norweigan solar power company EnSol has patented a thin film solar cell technology designed to be sprayed on to just such surfaces. Unlike traditional silicon-based solar cells, the film is composed of metal nanoparticles embedded in a transparent composite matrix, and operates on a different principle. EnSol is now developing the product with help from the University of Leicester’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.

“One of the key advantages is that it is a transparent thin film that can be coated onto window glass so that windows in buildings can also become power generators,” gizmag

In Queensland a dye infusion method is being developed, also to turn glass into electricity generators.

Treehugger reports on XsunX effort to develop a thin film application that could be used on windows as well as other surfaces. A quick slide show with some tech details is here.

MIT wants to use windows as solar concentrators, gathering the energy along the edges at the frames.

And for a quick discussion of some of the technologies as reflected in stocks, try this.

Some project that virtually the entire world could be powered from the sun in less than 20 years — if the good guys win. One of the brakes on this possibility is that attention is still being turned to “clean” coal. Bad idea, as most of you know. Here’s a recent Union of Concerned Scientists report on how bad.

A Risky Proposition: The Financial Hazards of New Investments in Coal Plants

So no single silver bullet, but lots of smaller ones with some promise. Down with stupidity! Up with innovation!


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