Transparent solar panels are essentially glass with solar panels built into them, and they are primarily produced by Polysolar UK. This new form of solar panel has provided us with a new and exciting form of solar energy that is generated through glass that is practically clear. At the moment, a lot of research and development is going into this new form of solar energy, and the purpose of this page is to take you through some of the essential facts. With a range of applications and constant advancements, this could be the next big thing, not just for solar energy, but for renewable energy.
How They Work
Polysolar typically uses thin film photovoltaic (PV) technology when it comes to the manufacture of their solar glass. This is known as BIPV photovoltaic solar glass. The material that is used to make the thin film cells is ideal for BIPV solutions as it enables them to produce cells for solar PV panels that are entirely transparent or opaque. Therefore, they are perfect for a range of applications, including:
- Curtain walls
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As previously mentioned, the thin film technology that is used in these panels has been specifically designed for BIPV applications. As a result, it offers advantages in terms of performance in the following ways:
- Performance at poor angles
Thin film solar cells are able to run at a high level of efficiency, even when they are not placed at an optimal angle for the absorption of direct sunlight. As a result, there is greater potential for installation, including placing them vertically on buildings without compromising the overall efficiency.
- Efficiency in low lighting
Thin film solar cells are also able to operate in as little as 10% sunlight. This extends the number of hours in which electricity can be produced over the course of a year, resulting in a more consistent energy yield. Additionally, thin film alignment will cause panels to be less affected by shading.
- Superior heat tolerance
These panels are less affected by high temperatures. As a result, they will not require any ventilation to perform at optimal levels. Additionally, thin film tends to work at a higher level of efficiency over a greater temperature range. This means that they will receive the maximum potential for energy production.
- Comparable costs
The initial cost of installation is actually very similar to that of conventional building materials. However, their additional multi-functionality does make them an economically superior choice.
- Strong panels
These panels are also incredibly tough and rigid, with laminated glass that works to increase the overall functionality of the panels. In addition to this, it also increases their potential for installation applications.
Cost and Efficiency
The most recent design from Polysolar has a layer of thin photovoltaic embedded in the centre of each of the glass panels. This design costs £250 per square meter, and the grey tinted panel is able to produce efficiency levels of 12% to 15%. This is actually more than a standard thin film solar panel, but it is also an increase when compared to the original orange-tinted model from the company.
The original orange model only cost £175 per square meter, but it was also only able to produce efficiency levels of around 9%. One of the fantastic things about these panels is that while they are transparent, they are also able to control glare and reduce thermal gain. This is a huge factor when it comes to the reduction of energy use within a building.
The next step for Polysolar is to create a solar panel that is entirely clear with no tinting. While Michigan State University was able to create one that they called the transparent luminescent solar concentrator in 2014, it was only capable of efficiency levels of 1%.
This clear panel also sits over windows, directing the infrared light to photovoltaic solar cells that are located at the edge of the concentrator. There is still a long way to go when it comes to a completely clear panel, but research and development at Polysolar are still going incredibly strong. They have created a perfectly clear organic PV glazing on a very small scale, with full production expected to move forward in 2018.
The first generation of panels was 7mm thick and weighed 24kg. They were installed in the forecourts of two Sainsbury’s petrol stations, as well as a canopy at the Barbican Centre in London. The latest installations for these innovative panels can be found in the form of a transparent solar bus shelter in the centre of London’s canary Wharf.
This is something that provides businesses in the area with the option to adopt the panels as their own. This is because the bus station is not only made from their PV glass, but also features PV powered interactive displays, signage, and lighting, with the excess running back to the grid.
They can also be installed in greenhouses as both the roof and walls, or even your conservatory and skylights. Using them in your home and garden can help to generate an excellent amount of electricity for your household appliances.
Want to Know More?
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