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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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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