The ClearVue integrated clear glass solar panel.

We’ve written about ClearVue solar glass a couple of times already this year – the Perth based company has had a successful IPO and has some great tech behind it. On Wednesday they announced the development of a frame-independent Insulated Glass Unit which will house the ClearVue integrated clear glass solar panel.

The ClearVue integrated clear glass solar panel.

The ClearVue integrated clear glass solar panel
The ClearVue integrated clear glass solar panel (source: CleearVuePV.com)

A press release on the ClearVue website has given an indication of what we can expect from this company – they’ve developed these IGU’s which means there will be more licensing opportunities, as the clients ‘no longer need to rely upon ClearVue proprietary window frame designs and can instead utilise industry standard frames’ – meaning it’ll be far easier to get the tech into more homes, office buildings, boats, or even caravans. 

This represents a fairly significant shift in tech for the company who previously built the PV cells around the inside of the window frame – where it’s now captured within the IGU glass module itself – making it far easier to apply their BIPV integrated clear glass solar panel. 

ClearVue Executive Chairman Victor Rosenberg said in the press release that the new IGU units will open up their ability to sell more units and include them in wider ranges of usage:

“The move away from dependency upon any specific frame design to an industry standard IGU that can be supplied to innumerate framing companies and window fabricators will significantly increase ClearVue’s potential to reach a global market faster. This simple step has widened our scope for even greater licensing opportunities”

The IGU units will be used in early trial sites in, amongst other places, Mirreco’s micro-homes. In other news, their window and glass curtain wall solutions continue to progress and are expected to be completed on schedule. We can’t wait to see what’s next for this and for solar windows! One of my favourite pieces of solar tech.

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ClearVue Technologies Solar Glass/Windows IPO

Western Australian solar glass company ClearVue Technologies are preparing to float on the ASX – in order to raise capital to sell their solar power generating glass windows globally. They’ve developed the tech in conjunction with the Electron Science Research Institute (ESRI) at Edith Cowan University. 

ClearVue Technologies

According to an interview with Finance News Network, ClearVue’s executive chairman Victor Rosenberg said the company is currently in the pre-development stage and are hoping to commence manufacturing the windows within the next 8 weeks.  They have a manufacturing partner in China called ROCKY Glass who will be making the windows to start, then they will licence the product worldwide, gaining income from both licensing and royalties. 

The ClearVue website have discussed their plans for the future: “Our technology presents a paradigm shift in the way glass will be used in building construction, automobiles, agriculture and speciality products”. 

ClearVue, founded in 1995, have lodged with ASIC to apply for 25,000,000 Shares at an issue price of $0.20 per Share to raise $5,000,000. Click here to download their prospectus and apply for shares online if you’re interested in their IPO. 

Solar Windows and Solar Glass

ClearVue Technologies Solar Glass and Windows
ClearVue Technologies Solar Glass and Windows (source: http://www.clearvuepv.com/)

ClearVue Technologies’ current offering is a patented nano technology – using BIPV (Building-Integrated Photovoltaic). Unlike most of their competitors the window remains clear, and the solar glass also “allows the visible light to pass through up to 70 per cent and it rejects the infrared and the UV from penetrating the room”. 

“Nobody actually has got clear glass,” said Rosenberg in an interview last year.  “They’ve got either lines or they’ve got dots, or looks like a chessboard with squares of solar panels on the glass.

“We are today, I would proudly say, the only commercial-size clear glass super building material producer.”

The windows currently generate 30W per square metre whilst simultaneously insulating and providing UV control. They’re hoping to reach 50W per square metre as they improve the BIPV technology. 

We’ve written quite extensively on solar windows – with technology such as perovskite solar cells and inkjet printed solar cells using Cyanobacteria among the more interesting ideas. There’s no doubt that this will be a huge market and there are quite a lot of competitors jostling to bring the best technology to market, so it’ll be exciting to see what happens!

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Smart Solar Windows – New Technology Advancements

New findings from a team at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory mean we are one step closer to smart solar windows. This will help future buildings generate their own energy and move cities one step closer to being self-sustainable.

Smart Solar Windows – Solar Cells in Windows

Jacqui Cole, a materials scientist originally from the University of Cambridge and currently based at the Argonne National Laboratory, works with colleagues to determine the molecular structure of working solar cell electrodes. They placed them within a fully assembled device that works just like a window – these dye-sensitized solar cells are transparent and work well in conjunction with glass due to their flexibility and thin, see-through electronic circuits. 

Jacqui Cole - Working on Technology for Smart Solar Windows
Jacqui Cole – Working on Technology for Smart Solar Windows (source: anl.gov)

Although there have been improvements in transparent solar technology and smart windows, this is a significant technology increase as previously the interactions and unknown molecular mechanisms between the electrodes and electrolyte weren’t understood very well (i.e. how the dye interacts with the semiconductor). 

“Most previous studies have modeled the molecular function of these working electrodes without considering the electrolyte ingredients,” Cole was quoted on the ANL website. “Our work shows that these chemical ingredients can clearly influence the performance of solar cells, so we can now use this knowledge to tune the ions to increase photovoltaic efficiency.”

Research in Nanoscale earlier this year (which also came from Argonne National Laboratory) showed that certain chemical ingredients can influence the photovoltaic performance of solar cells – and a ‘modest boost’ in performance would be enough to make the cells competitive, according to Cole. She noted that manufacturing dye-sensitized solar cells is ‘very cheap’ in comparison to other solar cell tech. 

Although the organic dyes (such as the one used in this study, called MK-2) are still in lab trial stages, metal organic dyes are starting to become commercialised. For example, a building in Graz, Austria (the Science Tower) uses windows that generate renewable energy at the top sections of its tower. 

We’ll keep you updated with any news on solar windows and their real-world application. Some huge steps forward being made in this area recently! 

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Transparent Solar Technology for Windows Created

Transparent Solar materials which could be applied to windows, buildings, car windows (effectively any device with a clear surface) have been created at Michigan State University. The highly transparent solar cells represent a gigantic step forward for solar technology and we’re excited to see the different types of applications they’ll have when they come to market.

Transparent Solar Materials – Solar Windows and more?

Transparent Solar Panel for Windows
Transparent Solar Panel for Windows (source: smh.com.au via Yimu Zhao and Richard Lunt)

Engineering researchers at Michigan State University released a paper entitled ‘Solar energy that doesn’t block the view‘ in 2014. Since then they’ve been improving the technology efficiency and preparing it for market.

Dr. Richard Lunt, the Johansen Crosby Endowed Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at MSU, was one of the scientists responsible for this breakthrough. Along with Christopher Traverse, Richa Pandey, and Miles Barr from Ubiquitous Energy Inc, the team have been working towards increasing the efficiency of the transparent solar film. They’re currently recording efficiencies of over 10% (typical solar panels are 15-20% efficient in converting sunlight into energy), so there’s still a ways to go, but considering these are able to be applied while not affecting the usability of windows etc., it’s a major breakthrough.

“Highly transparent solar cells represent the wave of the future for new solar applications,” Dr. Lunt said. “We analyzed their potential and show that by harvesting only invisible light, these devices can provide a similar electricity-generation potential as rooftop solar while providing additional functionality to enhance the efficiency of buildings, automobiles and mobile electronics.”

According to the SMH, the tech works via organic molecules within the transparent film – they absorb ultraviolet and infrared lightwaves (invisible to the human eye) and convert the lightwaves into electricity. The molecules do this by directing the lightwaves to small photovoltaic cells at the edge of the screen. This allows them to allow visible light through and still harness the energy. The film itself is less than one-thousandth of a millimetre thick!

The team estimate there is 5-7 billion square metres of glass in the United States – so if this tech were to be applied at scale it could just about fulfil half of America’s energy needs. Another great step forward for solar panel technology!

You can also read the article entitled “Emergence of highly transparent photovoltaics for distributed applications” on Nature.com by clicking here (requires subscription). 

Alternatively, watch the video below which shows a working prototype by Dr. Lunt!

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Butterfly Solar Cell Technology in Germany

Butterfly solar technology – Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany have managed to double the amount of energy solar panels convert to energy by studying the nanostructures of black butterfly wings.

How does it work?

Radwan Siddique at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology was reading about butterfly wings whilst researching a technique for building 3d nanostructures. “I was so intrigued that I literally went to a lot of butterfly nurseries and gathered several butterflies,” Siddique told Seeker. “The black butterfly was one of them. I was putting them under SEM (a scanning electron microscope) and looking at the structures.” 

Although the openings on the black butterfly’s wings are less than a millionth of a metre wide, the latticed nanostructures they’re made of scatter light and are able to help the butterfly absorb more of the sun’s heat, helping the butterfly (a cold-blooded insect) regulate its body temperature and fly in cool weather. 

Butterfly Solar
Butterfly Solar – Scanning electron microscope image of bio-inspired nanoholes (source: seeker.com via Radwanul Siddique, KIT)

Butterfly Solar Cells – Production

According to Science Advances on October 18, when the findings were published, the “nanopatterned absorbers achieve a relative integrated absorption increase of 90% at a normal incident angle of light to as high as 200% at large incident angles, demonstrating the potential of black butterfly structures for light-harvesting purposes in thin-film solar cells.”

Siddique and his colleagues used a sheet of hydrogenated amorphous silicon in an attempt to copy the structure of the black butterfly wings. When they used a layer of polymer with circular indentations of different sizes, and transferred it to a silicon base, they were able to produce the solar power at a high efficiency using a thin film, as opposed to standard crystal based cells. Some potential uses for these thin-film solar cells could be the incorporation into solar windows or other structures that wouldn’t work well with the crystal-based solar cells. 

The cells are also quick and easy to create – “the way we produce the structure is so simple,” Siddique says, “We need just 5 minutes to 10 minutes to make the nanostructures on a six-inch wafer of silicon.” The butterfly creates these nanostructures by combining proteins to cause a chemical interaction. Siddique’s team created artificial versions of these proteins to manufacture their butterfly solar cells – which are cheap and scalable.

Still early days yet, but it’ll be exciting to see how ‘butterfly solar’ stacks up against other emerging solar tech such as perovskite solar cells

 

 

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Smart Windows created at Princeton University

Researchers at Princeton University have created a prototype for ‘smart windows’ which, using a controllable glazing, can augment cooling, heating, and lighting systems through tint variation.

About the Smart Windows

The new type of solar cell in the windows is able to use near-UV light (invisible to the human eye) – perfect to use for to power the system, which is estimated to save up to 40 perfect of an average building’s energy costs. The panels are able to change the tint of windows through a special controllable gaze – subsequently managing heat, light and cooling.

As they require some power for operation (which is generated by the solar cell), retrofitting these windows is a project that still has a few challenges ahead of it – but it’s a massive step forward in solar panel technology.

Yueh-Lin (Lynn) Loo, director of the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, and the Theodora D. ’78 and William H. Walton III ’74 Professor in Engineering, is one of the authors of a paper published last month to discuss the smart window tech, developed in her laboratory. Loo was quoted as saying  “Using near-UV light to power these windows means that the solar cells can be transparent and occupy the same footprint of the window without competing for the same spectral range or imposing aesthetic and design constraints.” As for the need for a different way of looking at the solar cells, Loo stated that “Typical solar cells made of silicon are black because they absorb all visible light and some infrared heat — so those would be unsuitable for this application.”

Smart Windows Princeton Lynn Loo
Smart Windows Creater Yueh-Lin (Lynn) Loo, with Nicholas Davy and Melda Sezen-Edmonds (image: David Kelly Crow)

Loo, along with doctoral student at Princeton Nicholas Davy have started a company called Andluca Technologies based on the new technology and are looking into other ways to utilise it. this ‘near-UV’ solar cell technology could, for example, power IOT (internet-of-things) sensors or other low power devices. “It does not generate enough power for a car, but it can provide auxiliary power for smaller devices, for example, a fan to cool the car while it’s parked in the hot sun,” Loo said.

Davy said that the research team are currently hard at work developing a flexible version of their technology – so you would be able to ‘peel and stick’ it onto existing windows, subsequently controlling them from an app. According to Davy this would “instantly (improve) energy efficiency, comfort and privacy”.

While it looks like this tech is still a ways off, it’ll be exciting to see how it progresses and is implemented into future projects.

 

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Solar Cell Windows for sale in Asia

Some amazing technology out of Asia pioneered by Asahi Glass has windows with solar cells embedded in them being offered to the global market. These solar cell windows will be marketed to developers worldwide, with a focus on Australia and Oceania.

Asahi Glass Solar Cell Windows

This technology isn’t new (it has been offered to the Japanese market since 2000), but is experiencing a resurgence as Asahi are preparing the product for export. The windows will be offered for developers to implement as part of construction packages in order to help meet Asia’s rapidly growing renewable power needs.

The solar cell windows can generate 2-4 watt hours per square 15.6cm per side, depending on design. The plan is to sell Sunjoule to construction projects in Australia and the rest of Oceania – they’ve already installed in Cambodia, Singapore, and Hong Kong where they have set up shop to target European and US property developers who want to add unique and eco-friendly functionality to their building designs. They also plan to start producing these energy-conserving solar cell windows/glass in 2018 in Indonesia, according to Nikkei.com. Here’s an article from Inhabitat talking about the ‘nanosolar‘ thin and flexible solar cell coating which is utilised in the panels.

About Asahi

Asahi Glass Co Solar Cell Windows Australia
Asahi Glass Co Solar Cell Windows

Asahi are a global glass manufacturing company who offer myriad products such as heated windshields and 3d curved cover glass for car mounted displays. They turned over $12.8 billion USD in the 2013 financial year and have 51,500 consolidated employees so they are a major player in the industry. According to Wikipedia they are one of the largest flat glass producing companies in the world.

Asahi India Glass Ltd. (AIS) – who are an Indian affiliate of the company – also offer a mobile app called ‘AIS – World Of Glass’ for end users and partners to gain a deeper insight and experience into their portfolio of glass offerings. Click here for iOS and here for Android if you’d like to give it a try!  We’ll be interested to see how much the solar panel technology increases over the coming months and years and how Asahi are able to improve and enhance their offering – solar cell windows are a great innovation and it’ll be interesting to see how quickly the technology is picked up worldwide and how competitors react to this product.

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