California company creates windows with built-in solar panels to help residents comply with a state regulation mandating all new home constructions use solar power

  • A tech company in Redwood City has made windows with solar panels in them
  • The windows only absorb infrared and ultraviolet light to avoid dim interiors
  • The company believes the windows could be used in cars, offices, and iPhones

A California energy startup has designed windows with built-in solar panels, which they hope will hasten the widespread transition to carbon-free electricity sources the state is encouraging with new construction regulations.

Designed by Ubiquitous Energy, the windows are coated with a layer of organic dye that’s just 1/1000th of a millimeter thick.

The dye layer captures infrared and ultraviolet light waves and transforms the energy into electricity that can be stored in a battery and used to power a house or office.

ClearView Power windows (pictured above) were designed by Ubiquitous Energy, using a thin layer of organic dye that captures ultraviolet and infrared waves of light from the sun while letting visible light pass through, making it possible to harvest solar power without any dimming effect

ClearView Power windows (pictured above) were designed by Ubiquitous Energy, using a thin layer of organic dye that captures ultraviolet and infrared waves of light from the sun while letting visible light pass through, making it possible to harvest solar power without any dimming effect 

Unlike conventional solar panels, which absorb the full spectrum of sunlight, the windows, which are being sold under the brand ClearView Power, let visible sunlight pass through so there’s very little dimming.

The company is hoping to take advantage of a new mandate from the California government requiring all homes constructed in 2020 or after have some form of solar energy generation built in.

‘This is great for ClearView Power because homeowners can install windows just like they would anyways, but they actually produce power to meet this requirement,’ Ubiquitous Energy’s founder Miles Barr told CNN.

Since the windows don’t absorb the full spectrum of sunlight, they’re not as energy efficient traditional solar panels.

According to Barr, at peak performance, the windows generate around two-thirds the amount of energy conventional solar panels do.

The only location to currently have the ClearView Power windows is Ubiquitous Energy's Redwood City office (pictured above), but company co-founder Miles Barr believes they could be used in skyscrapers, cars, and even smartphones

The only location to currently have the ClearView Power windows is Ubiquitous Energy’s Redwood City office (pictured above), but company co-founder Miles Barr believes they could be used in skyscrapers, cars, and even smartphones

They also cost around 20 percent more to install than conventional windows, but Barr believes the cost will be easily offset by reduced energy costs.

So far the only location to use the windows is the Ubiquitous Energy’s own offices in Redwood City.

The company is currently offering rectangular grids with six glass panels measuring 14 inches by 20 inches.

Because the windows don't absorb the bull spectrum of solar light they only produce around two-thirds the amount of energy that conventional solar panels do, but Barr believes that since they only cost around 20 percent more than conventional windows they'll pay for themselves

Because the windows don’t absorb the bull spectrum of solar light they only produce around two-thirds the amount of energy that conventional solar panels do, but Barr believes that since they only cost around 20 percent more than conventional windows they’ll pay for themselves 

Barr believes the windows can be used for everything, from residential to industrial spaces, and the glass could even be used in electronics to help add extra power to batteries.

‘It can be applied to windows of skyscrapers; it can be applied to glass in automobiles; it can be applied to the glass on your iPhone,’ he said.

‘We really see the future of this technology as being applied everywhere, all around us, ubiquitous.’

WHAT IS SOLAR POWER?

Solar panels convert energy from the sun into electrical power (stock image)

Solar panels convert energy from the sun into electrical power (stock image)

Solar power is the conversion of energy from sunlight into electricity. 

Two methods for generating solar power exist.

Photovoltaics — the kind of solar panel you might see built into a calculator — are capable of directly converting light into electrical power. 

In concentrated solar power systems, however, mirrors or lenses are first used to collect the sunlight that falls on a large area and focus it — creating heat that can be used to drive a steam turbine and generate electricity.

The productivity of solar panels is dependant on the sunlight they receive in a given location — a factor which is dependant on both latitude and climate.

Optimum locations for solar farms include the arid tropics and subtropics, with deserts lying at such low latitudes often being cloudless and getting around 10 hours of sunlight each day.

According to NASA, the eastern part of the Sahara — the Libyan Desert — is the sunniest place on the Earth.

Solar power accounted for 1.7 per cent of the world’s electricity production in 2017, and has been growing at a rate of 35 per cent each year.

 



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