Solar cell technology could soon tap into the massive energy potential of windows and other transparent objects, new research has shown.
Scientists have been working on transparent solar panels which could be used as windows in cars or homes at the same time as generating electricity.
“Highly transparent solar cells represent the wave of the future for new solar applications”, said Richard Lunt, Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at Michigan State University.
"We analysed 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.”
The material is designed to capture just ultraviolet and near-infrared light.
Commercial versions of the high tech new solar panels should be on the market in “the next few years”, Professor Lunt told Newsweek.
An estimated five billion to seven billion square metres of glass surface in the United States could be used to meet 40 per cent of the country’s energy demand, according to the authors of the report - rising to nearly 100 per cent, if energy storage capacity is improved.
In 2016, solar accounted for 1.4 per cent of US electrical generation, up from just 0.1 per cent in 2010
Meanwhile, the cost to install traditional solar panels in the US has fallen by more than 70 per cent since 2010.
In the UK, solar’s overall share of the market is higher, accounting for 3.4 per cent of all electricity generated in 2016.
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