Power-Generating Windows Coming to a Building Near You? - Smart Energy Decisions

Commercial, Distributed Generation, Solar  -  March 1, 2016

Power-generating windows: Coming to a building near you?

Though the technology behind power-generating windows has been researched for years, large-scale implementation of solar windows has yet to get underway. SolarWindows Technologies Inc. hopes to change that with help from the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, or NREL.

SolarWindow is working to commercialize transparent electricity-generating coatings for glass and flexible plastics. The company said it has started phase three of its Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with NREL, the goal of which is the commercialization of SolarWindow products.

SolarWindow’s Briana Erickson told Smart Energy Decisions their goal is to reach the manufacturing phase by the end of 2017. The pace of commercialization will then depend on forging partnerships with manufacturers and other stakeholders.

SolarWindow is initially targeting the five million tall towers and commercial buildings in the U.S., which consume almost 40% of the electrical energy generated.

"The prospect of skyscrapers generating electricity from see-through window products is very exciting,” Dr. Maikel van Hest, a senior scientist in the thin film and processing group within the National Center for Photovoltaics at NREL said in a news release. "Through [the agreement with SolarWindow], we have been able to develop and test this technology using some of the world’s most advanced state-of-the-art equipment. As a result, SolarWindow and NREL have advanced the technology by enhancing scale, efficiency and reliability.”

In addition, the team will focus on:

  • Large-scale window fabrication;
  • Interconnection development for easy ‘plug-n-play’ on-site installation;
  • Advanced performance measurement and modeling of SolarWindow when installed in various building types and geographies;
  • SolarWindow performance under varying artificial and natural light conditions.

The technology can reportedly provide a one-year financial payback while producing 50-times greater energy than rooftop solar when modeled for a 50-story building.

“We’re one step closer to launching what is possibly the single greatest breakthrough technology in clean energy to help us overcome our dependence on fossil fuels,” SolarWindow President and CEO John Conklin said in the March 1 news release. 

Keywords: NREL, SolarWindow

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