Imagine if your windows were transparent solar panels?
It would mean homes, offices and whole cities could use their windows to sustainably generate electricity from the sun.
Solar panels that look like glass aren’t just a pipe dream. They’re already being used and have huge potential to help meet the world’s energy needs from renewable sources.
Transparent solar panels look like clear glass and let light through like regular windows.
But they’re made with a type of solar glass that absorbs ultraviolet and infrared light types of light that aren’t visible to the naked eye and turn these into renewable electricity.
What could solar windows mean for the world?
Solar windows and related transparent solar technologies could provide around 40% of energy demand in the United States, the MSU team believes.
Combined with rooftop solar units, this could rise to almost 100%.
There’s so much glass in the world, the potential is huge.
Solar glass has benefits over solar panels
A key advantage of solar glass also known as photovoltaic glass is that it takes up less space than traditional solar panels.
In cities with lots of buildings and limited space, setting up traditional solar panel installations is difficult, Interesting Engineering explains.
Transparent solar panels, on the other hand, can be widely fitted even in cramped cities, helping buildings and cities meet net zero climate goals.
As solar glass engineer Richard Lunt explains: “You could turn nearly every surface of a building or landscape into a solar array and generate power right where you use it without even knowing that it’s there.”
Solar windows show how technology can unlock sustainable development progress that protects rather than threatens people and the planet.