I wondered whether it was April already when I read this solar article today, but read on I did. The article in question can be seen in full here and makes mention of research work being done by Michigan State University on the creation of transparent solar collectors. To you and me that means that we could soon be looking through windows that are creating electricity!
The material is still in the development stages at the moment and the efficiency is key on the researchers’ minds. At present the transparent luminescent solar concentrators (LSC) are running at around 1% efficiency for solar conversion and the aim is that the 5% efficiency barrier can be broken. This is apparently not the first time that this type of technology has been investigated, although past attempts have ended with a highly coloured result, hence why we have yet to see this fascinating material being installed into our homes and offices (other than the multi-purpose nightclub/offices of the future!).
The solar future
The limits for this concept once perfected will no doubt be tested to the extreme as it really will be imagination as the only barrier! I do hope however that this idea doesn’t get taken too far in residential buildings as large glazed areas in lets call them ‘aspirational designs’ as this to me would be rather counter-productive as the electrical energy created from the solar glazing (or LSC) would then be needed to undertake mass cooling in the summer.
An electric conservatory would be wonderful, but they still only tend to suit a certain number of people and don’t fit all lifestyles due to the extremes of temperature. A lot of my projects involve the removal of conservatories when someone has bought a house. The cost of the conservatory was no doubt built into the house sale price, but nevertheless, they do not fit a lot of new owners and instead are often used for drying washing or as a children’s playroom in my experience!
Want to incorporate some solar power into your project to keep the electricity bills down, then let me know and I might be able to put you in touch with somebody who can help you. I’m keen to incorporate energy efficient items into the project design and it’s even more important if you are looking to extend your home as there will be more to heat!