Transparent Solar Panels: The Future of Windows?


There is no doubt that alternate sources of renewable energy are the future, especially with the steady increase in global warming signs. Besides hydropower, solar energy is touted to be among the most promising methods of using renewable energy in a variety of ways. Using solar panels is not just limited to using on rooftops at homes, but it is also used in toys, cars and now – even on the windows!

We are all aware that the Solar Photovoltaic Cell (PV cell) is used to convert sunlight directly into electricity. From powering light bulbs to charging batteries, the normal blue-coloured cells have a variety of uses. But research is being done to improve the quality of these cells and maximise their use.

Michigan State University is doing cutting-edge research and has come up with Photovoltaic glass that can change the future of solar energy and make it completely transparent! These fully transparent solar cells are said to be a game-changer that, with the right research & application, can transform any clear surface into an electricity-making machine. From the sunroof of a car to office & commercial space windows, they all have the power of being transformed for a greener future.

While this advancement is the talk of the town, there is likely to be some hesitation regarding the widespread application of these transparent solar cells. The first issue lies with local production and the second problem lies with the regulatory application. While the technology is relatively new and not locally available in many countries, companies are looking to adapt & evolve for the larger market. Another challenge that energy companies and governments will have to consider is regulating the technology and providing incentives to put it to use.

Semi-transparent solar panels developed by German company Heliatek GmbH are said to absorb 60% of the sunlight they receive. Still, the efficiency has reduced when compared to the conventional solar panel. The efficiency of a fully transparent solar panel is 1% at present, so a lot can be said about the research & development of a transparent solar cell. The future is clear, but the widespread application will rely on production & awareness!