Turning energy-consuming buildings into power-generating units.
Everybody is aware of solar panels applied on rooftops; however, scientists have recently come up with a more efficient luminescent solar concentration (LSC) that can replace conventional glass windows. Similar to solar panels, the “solar windows” can turn sunlight into electricity while still maintaining transparency. The advantage of solar windows is that not only does it provide more surface space for energy collection on buildings, but it does not require additional fields of land either.
According to the research published last December by the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics, they have designed a “quantum-cutting” approach that can double LSC device efficiency. LSC is a less expensive photovoltaic technology that collects sunlight on a broad area, converts it into luminescence, and directs it to solar cells. Additionally, the semi-transparency of the solar concentrator enables the creation of “solar windows” that can reduce building energy consumption and turn them into power-generating units instead.
The leader of the research team Wu Kaifeng told Xinhuanet that the future application of solar windows are promising.
"The idea of using windows to produce electric power is fascinating -- Just imagine a world in which all buildings are equipped with solar windows to power themselves. LSCs are exactly the type of solar windows to make such imagination come true," Wu said.
The technology works by absorbing one blue photon and emitting two near-infrared photons, successfully creating an internal optical efficiency of around 120%. The LSC technology is said to have revolutionized solar power technology as it develops and proves to be more cost efficient compared to the 'regular' silicon-based solar panels. Additionally, it opens up new opportunities for better use of large building facades, not just relying on the surface area of the roof.
However, the LSC technology is not commercialized yet as it is still in the development process. Currently, the efficiency rates are still too low, but the technology holds promising prospects for future buildings.
There has also been similar technology developed around the solar window concept with companies such as SolarGaps creating solar blinds. The blinds have panel strips which convert the sunlight into energy for your household. On top of keeping your privacy, they track the sun and are controlled automatically by your smartphone or other smart devices. Unlike solar windows, solar blinds are already available in the market for commercial use and can be bought online through multiple companies.
*Boomi News is the official blog of Boomi, a Shanghai-based startup that provides starter kits filled with sustainable products to help guide you towards a more zero-waste lifestyle.
“New Technology Moves ‘Solar Windows’ Closer to Reality.” Profile: Peru's Engineer-Turned-President Martin Vizcarra - Xinhua | English.news.cn, www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-12/27/c_137702578.htm.