Windows could soon work as transparent solar panels
Merck, the German science and technology company, will collaborate with BIPV producer Polysolar, and innovation center CPI for a project in the UK. The Power Generating & Energy Saving Windows project aims to enable windows of the future to generate their own solar power as well as provide greater thermal control. The project addresses the construction industry’s need for so-called zero carbon buildings by developing a transparent BIPV window that is capable of both generating power and controlling temperature.
The commercialisation of such a device will reduce building energy costs while offering architects greater freedom in structural design. Transparent solar glazing panels are easy to install in conventional framing, making them ideal also for surface applications such as windows, skylights, façades and roofing.
The use of organic photovoltaics is attractive for a number of sectors because it is adaptable, lightweight, transparent and low-cost.
“We are excited to be part of this important project. This presents a unique opportunity to further develop the commercial use of gray OPV modules and to drive more widespread adoption of BIPV,” said Brian Daniels, head of the advanced technologies business unit at Merck.
The project builds upon the partners’ existing early-stage research to develop a commercially viable power-generating window at demonstration scale based on organic photovoltaic technology.
An upgraded version of the recently launched semi-transparent gray-coloured lisicon (an acronym for lithium super ionic conductor) formulation from Merck is a key element that will be further improved to help take this technology from a prototype to the market.
The OPV window demonstrator will seek to achieve similar installation costs, transparency, performance and lifetime to that of high-performance glazing currently used in industry, while delivering energy yields comparable to those obtained by conventional photovoltaics in a vertical orientation.
“Modern architecture faces a dilemma of wishing to maximise natural light delivery and reduce building energy consumption. With our OPV glazing, we deal with these conflicts while also generating carbon-free renewable energy, thus enabling buildings of the future to be truly zero carbon,” said Hamish Watson of Polysolar.
“The output of the project will be to produce large-scale organic photovoltaic devices using sustainable, low-cost manufacturing processes. Once concluded, the project will provide the industry with the required lifetimes, dimensions and price points needed to evaluate how to take this emerging technology to market,” added Dave Barwick, principal scientist at CPI.