Solar windows

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The future of green technology

Author: Melinda Nagy – Contributor

Imagine if these windows could generate power. / Michael Chmielewski

Imagine if these windows could generate power. / Michael Chmielewski

Have you ever looked at a building with multiple solar panels and then looked at the building next to it with coloured glass windows and thought, ‘someone should invent a solar window that could do both things at once?’ Someone has.

There are multiple companies posting on Facebook about new solar-powered window projects looking for development funds.  There are so many places that could use this new source of energy: the University, workplaces, rec centres, homes and office buildings, to name just a few.

This is a fairly new technology. Solar-powered windows were invented in 2012 by UCLA researchers.  Their new polymer solar cell “can maintain around 70 per cent,” according to an article posted on Buildings.

“It can be produced in high volume for a low cost because it’s made from lightweight, flexible photoactive plastic,” according to the article. This helps with transparency of the windows while still functioning as a solar panel.

However, other solar-powered technologies are available. Additionally, many grants are available for Saskatchewan homes and rec centres for solar hot water heaters, eco-energy retrofit, and solar and wind program grants.

Multiple companies around the world are working on this technology. From Canada to the Netherlands this technology continues to be researched.

  Several of them have developed transparent aluminum windows and many have developed solar coating for windows.  Apparently these windows are ready for installation on buildings, but not for homes yet.

Currently, a Saskatoon-based company has see-through solar window technology. The company, Winning with Solar Energy (WSE) Technology is exploring this new field of research.

According to their website, “WSE was Incorporated in 2008 with the goal to develop Alternative Energy Solutions that make sense.”

Vic Ellis from Sustainable Concepts Inc. (SCI) said that Solar power windows are electrical conductors that have a 20 per cent conduction capacity compared to traditional thermal solar collectors which have a 40 per cent conduction capacity.  Ellis also stated that Canada receives 13 times the amount of solar energy needed for consumption but it is very important to have the right storage system to sustain that energy for use long term. For example, energy storage can be used in winter months, when sunlight is scarce. He also said the industry leaders are companies in Scandinavia, Sweden and Finland, where they have less sunlight hours, and to some extent in Germany. The reason why they’re so prolific with solar technologies is their ability to store the energy and use it later. The ability to do this helps their cause and allows solar energy to be a more feasible source of energy.

Vic said he is willing to order products if he knows who the manufacturer is and can design an efficient system to support the energy needs of his customers in Saskatchewan.

As solar power develops and improves the world over, Saskatchewan will be contributing to new technologies. Solar-powered windows could very well revolutionize power systems across the globe.

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