Outfit your windows with transparent solar panels?

by
Anonymous Coward
in science on (#GTCK)
Despite the immense potential of solar energy, at present, roof-mounted photovoltaic panels are able at best to capture about 20% of the available energy. And that despite research that has led to gains! To improve energy generation, you either increase solar panel efficiency, or increase their coverage. Enter a Silicon Valley startup named "Ubiquitous Energy."

Ubiquitous Energy produces transparent solar cells using an organic chemical process they call "Clearview Power Technology." They claim their panels cost less than traditional tech and can be built 1000x thinner than a human hair. The system captures ultraviolet and infrared light and lets the rest pass through as it would normally.

National Geographic has a look at the technology here.

Is this an important step forward in solar power generation, or does adding windows to the mix constitute a gimmick? How do we get people more interested in solar energy?

[Ed. Note: the article image chosen here is of an invisible solar panel placed over the entirety of the text.]

Expensive, less efficient, and very limited (Score: 3, Informative)

by kwerle@pipedot.org on 2015-08-08 16:18 (#GTP6)

Claimer: I work as a programmer for SolarCity.

I'm in favor of all things solar. And if it ain't from SC, too bad for us.

These things are less than 10% efficient. In general your roof points at the sun more than your windows do. For most buildings, there is a lot more surface area of roof than of windows. I'm always amazed at how much of a solar install is complicated because of wire management and things that are subtly not about the panels themselves - and I imagine doing those things on the roof is easier than in a window.

So, yeah, I'm all for research and finding other solar/wind/whatever solutions - but solar on the roof is here and now. If your power bill is more than $100/month, you're a pretty good candidate for solar. If it's significantly more, then you're a great candidate. If it's less, then you still may be. Look into it.
Is this an important step forward in solar power generation, or does adding windows to the mix constitute a gimmick? How do we get people more interested in solar energy?
I think that the best way to save the planet is to make money doing it. And that's SC's proposition - save you some money, keep ourselves in business, and do that in a way that scales to the whole world. 'Cause if there's no profit in it, it's going to be mighty hard to convince everyone to do it. But if it makes financial sense to everyone involved and it doesn't screw up the planet, maybe we can make some progress.
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