Solar windows could be on the cards for the future

It wasn’t that long ago that we heard from the United Nations in a dire warning that humanity – as a society – has only 11 years left to prevent irreversible damage, as a result of climate change. In fact, that was only last year; fast-forward to 2020 and we’ve been busy battling a global pandemic, bushfires, economical disaster and recession.

Not everything is doom and gloom though. Innovations in clean energy are on the rise and as an extraneous result of COVID-19, pollution is down from a lack of commercial and industrial activity.

The challenge, however, still remains in eliminating the use of fossil fuels, which remains a primary resource worldwide. While we continue to swap these out for cleaner renewable solutions, experts are also dabbling away with technology across the wind, solar, hydro and thermal sectors. Surely somewhere in these fields is a crazy new invention waiting to happen, right? And you’d be right if you thought that.

Previously, solar windows haven’t exactly been praised by industry researchers and experts. But this technology might just carry the keys to a brighter, cleaner and eco-friendly society – and not too far into the future, either.

Solar stoush in supreme court over panel placement.

 Image: Pixabay

What are solar windows?

For a majority of us, windows are just those things we stare out of as we work from home and wish for our chance to be in the sun again (in Victoria, at least). Or they’re those things in Play School from back in the day.

But there’s more to these simple household essentials than all this. They might have the potential to help our solar energy innovations take things to the next step, ultimately showing potential to become powerhouses of solar power overall.

Utilising perovskite cells, solar windows are transparent designs that can absorb massive amounts of sunlight, converting it into useable electricity. Standard cells made of silicon are actually opaque, so perovskite already differs in its ability to offer a see-through alternative.

As a result, these windows act much in the same way as solar panels do, generating just as much electricity as well (around 140w per metre, in comparison to 320w from the typical panel).

Okay, but what is perovskite?

We’ve touched on this exciting material before in previous articles and it’s an interesting little beauty that’s showing lots of promise in the energy space. Perovskite is a type of crystal that’s able to absorb and harvest sunlight in a way that no other resource has been able to, to date.

The amount of sunlight we receive on Earth is more than we could ever imagine collecting or storing for our own use, yet we struggle with having enough of it on hand due to a lack of technology in harvesting this kind of volume.

The sun sends 410 quintillion joules of energy down to us every single hour. To put that in perspective, humans only use 430 quintillion joules per year. So, we’ve obviously got the excess to work with, the challenge just remains in how to get it. And that’s exactly where perovskite could help.

Able to absorb more light and generate more energy, this thinner film alternative is now spanning into window designs, which may act as a viable household option to collect more energy alongside rooftop solutions (or instead of). Now it’s all up to one of the biggest names in energy to take up this opportunity and run with it.

Tesla windows, anyone?

 

References and further reading

https://reneweconomy.com.au/solar-windows-a-step-closer-as-australian-researchers-team-with-glass-manufacturer-68555/

https://www.energy.gov/articles/turning-windows-solar-panels

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perovskite_solar_cell