Transparent Solar Cells Set to Turn Glass Surfaces into Solar Panels


A new wave of analysis projects at transparent solar technologies applied to display screens, cars, and windows, which could supply around 40% of the US’s energy demand.

In the last five to six years, transparent and semi-transparent light-harvesting materials have reportedly started to emerge, according to Michigan State University researchers and authors of a review that was presented recently in Nature. The authors have estimated that a coating of around 5 to 7 billion square meters of the US’s glass surface with transparent solar cells could generate an additional 100GW of power.

Richard Lunt, an associate professor at Michigan State University, and one of the authors of the review working on transparent solar technology said in a press release that they had been working for around five years on the highly transparent solar cells. He added that the technology offered a hopeful route to economic, widespread solar adoption on surfaces both small and large. The review discusses three main tactics that lend solar cell transparency and also talks about a related approach called solar concentrations.

The authors point to the advantage of the technology’s ubiquity whilst integrating standard silicon-based solar cells in transparent materials. They also point that the efficiencies could be as high as 14% when thin films of opaque light-absorbing semiconductors covered the entire area. However, the authors warn about observing the effect of coloured light on human circadian rhythm.

The authors also talk of the number of challenges, including scaling, high demand for indium-based electrodes, glass surfaces being non-optimally positioned for sunlight harvesting, and the technologies relying on organic materials that had the possibility of limiting lifetimes.

Amid numerous challenges, there is still an enormous potential of turning every glass surface in the world into a solar panel. It would definitely be a promising future where all the gadgets could be self-charged using sunlight.

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