New Energy Opens New Window on Solar Power

(3BL Media/JUst Means) - What if the glass used on windows in buildings across the world could become solar power generating units? This is exactly what New Energy Technologies is trying to do with organic photovoltaic (OPV) SolarWindow arrays. The arrays measure over 232 cm2, the largest of their kind, and come in uniform, colored tints which are more suitable for installation on skyscrapers.

Size is something the company has been working on. The latest array version is over 35 percent larger than SolarWindow’s previously-fabricated, working module that was 170 cm2, which in its turn was already 14 times larger than the then-previous largest-area OPV module ever fabricated at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

The new SolarWindow is the result of a collaboration between New Energy’s Principal Scientist, Dr. Scott Hammond and NREL Researchers, particularly Dr. Maikel van Hest, Dr. Dana C. Olson, and Dr. Scott Mauger. NREL is one of the most respected and advanced solar-photovoltaic research institutions in the world, with a track record over 37 years of innovation in the field. NREL and New Energy have been working through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement.

“Among the most important criteria for developing SolarWindow applications for today’s skyscrapers is providing a set of neutral colors that remain see-through and are uniform in fabrication. We’ve revealed a record-breaking, largest-area see-through, organic photovoltaic (OPV) SolarWindow array that addresses tall-tower and commercial building glass requirements, they also bear the promise of facile scale-up capabilities and unparalleled manufacturability,” said John A. Conklin, CEO at New Energy Technologies.

Neutral colors and scalable power are important features for the commercial feasibility to replace today’s passive glass windows with SolarWindow systems on all four sides of tall towers, that could become self-powered skyscrapers, the company said in a press statement.

Unlike traditional photovoltaic (PV) systems, restricted to use in direct sunlight on very limited skyscraper rooftop space, SolarWindow has been designed to work in sunlight and shaded conditions on huge expanses of glass surfaces common to today’s high-rise towers, which is its main selling point. Besides, it can operate in direct, diffuse, and shaded sunlight conditions. Conventional systems suffer large efficiency losses, if able to work at all, under such conditions.

SolarWindow also generates electricity from both natural and artificial light sources such as fluorescent, light emitting diodes (LED), and incandescent lights in offices while conventional systems become less efficient under these conditions and may not even work at all.

There are an estimated 80 million detached homes in the U.S. and more than five million commercial homes that are potential sites for the application of SolarWindow. New Energy reckons the U.S. can save $40 billion annually by reducing energy use in commercial buildings by 20 percent by 2020.

Image credit: New Energy Technologies