See-through Solar Technology Achieves New Breakthrough
New Energy Technologies’ SolarWindow is a promising photovoltaic solar technology that we have been following for a while. SolarWindow’s promise is to generate electricity on see-through glass. In conjunction with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the company has successfully fabricated the largest-area organic photovoltaic (OPV) module ever produced at the Laboratory.
Scientists developing SolarWindow succeeded in fabricating a working module of 170 square centimeters (cm2), more than 14-times larger than previous OPV devices fabricated at NREL.
NREL is a global reference in solar photovoltaic research and has helped develop many of the current commercially available applications. NREL and New Energy have been working through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement to advance the company’s SolarWindow technology for generating electricity on glass windows.
“The fabrication of a large-area see-through solar module of these dimensions is an important step in New Energy’s SolarWindow™ ongoing development,” stated Dr. David S. Ginley, an award-winning NREL Research Fellow and accomplished expert in transparent conductors and OPV. “We believe that building integrated applications provide a promising avenue for OPV deployment and we are continuing to work with New Energy Technologies to further address scale-up, a key milestone toward developing a deployable technology.”
These electricity-generating coating consist mainly of ‘polymers’. They are first designed and subsequently produced by way of organic synthesis; they are then applied to glass using various methods, including high-speed, high-volume industrial processes important to the eventual commercial manufacturing of SolarWindow products.
Once electricity-generating polymers are applied to a material surface, the resultant effect is the production of an OPV cell. The prospect of SolarWindow products generating electricity on see-through glass is made possible by way of the unique architecture associated with this fabrication of the OPV device.
New Energy Technology’s latest solution-coating technique has already been demonstrated as compatible with roll-to-roll (R2R) high-speed and high-volume fabrication methods, which means it would be suitable for very-large scale manufacturing. The company says its technology offers several advantages over first-generation solar products in terms of manufacturing, such as low temperature, low labor costs, decreased capital equipment expenditure, reduced cost of energy required for production, and improved environmental and occupational control. Market potential is also huge as SolarWindow could be applied on 85 million commercial and residential buildings in America.
Article by Antonio Pasolini, a Brazilian writer and video art curator based in London, UK. He holds a BA in journalism and an MA in film and television.
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