Solar energy has come far since its initial inception. With the evolution of technology, it has gone from being a product for industrial buildings to a residential energy source. The evolution doesn’t stop there as experts try to find new ways to make solar energy more cost effective.
One of these solar energy evolutions is the solar-powered smart window. These windows work by shifting to opaque from clear under strong sunlight in order to cool a building. They also absorb the sunlight during the day to generate electricity to power the building. These features make these windows a two in one deal. They produce energy to power the building while keeping out UV rays on sunny days to cool efficiently. The Energy Department funded project uses thermochromism to tint the windows at contact with sunlight.
According to Science Magazine, the windows will ideally convert 22% of the sun’s energy into electricity. The department of energy says the final product will look like an ordinary window and be cost-efficient.
Not a fan of blacked out windows every time the sun is out? No worries, there’s a way around that. An EU startup company, Physee has created windows that have small solar panels on the edges of the windows. They’re able to generate power while staying transparent so the natural light can flow right into the room. Unfortunately, these small panels can’t power an entire building, but can be used to charge smartphones and small electronics. However, it does come with other perks, such as sensors that detect conditions outside and adjust lighting and cooling systems indoors. These windows are currently only available in Europe and are on track to be installed into commercial buildings in the Netherlands.
Research is still being done on solar windows to improve functionality and make them building integrated. They’re still in prototype stages with testing being done on some industrial buildings. Once it becomes commercially available, it’s expected to help buildings use energy efficiently while generating their own electricity. Even though the solar windows were created with commercial buildings in mind, it is only a matter of time before we have them available for homes.