Solar Panels are gaining popularity throughout the UK, with installations of solar panels breaking records in 2013. As solar panel prices fall, we believe that they will be even more popular in 2014. But a new development from researchers at Michigan State University could mean that you don’t need to add panels at all.
The University’s College of Engineering have created a ‘transparent luminescent solar concentrator’ – despite the long name, the application is incredibly simple; it’s a clear surface that you can put over windows to act like a solar panel. Instead of additional panels on top of the roof, every single window in a building could be turned into a separate solar panel, without obstructing the view.
This isn’t a new idea – there have been a lot of attempts over the last few decades to create clear solar panels, but they have never created such a transparent material. The system uses small organic molecules to absorb wavelengths of sunlight that we can’t see, so it has no real effect on the quality or amount of light that would enter the room.
At the moment, the system is not very efficient and only converts at a rate of 1%, but they hope to increase this to as much as 5% as they continue working on the project. The best coloured solar panels have an efficiency of around 7%.
In the future, instead of seeing energy being generated by burning fossil fuels, building wind turbines, or even constructing solar panels, we will simply generate electricity through the fabric of the buildings themselves.Tags: solar panels, solar power
Categorised in: renewable energy