Transparent solar cells to tap windows for energy

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - 16:18

Sydney: A researcher is tapping windows in high-rise buildings to produce energy cheaply and more efficiently with transparent solar cells, a study reveals.

Mark Bissett, who just completed his doctorate from the Flinders` School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, used transparent carbon nanotubes, which can be `sprayed` onto windows, to utilise sunlight.

These nanotubes are more efficient and cheaper than their energy-sapping silicon counterparts, used in solar cells. Besides, the technology mimics photosynthesis, the process whereby plants obtain energy from the sun, according to a university statement.

"Solar power is actually the most expensive type of renewable energy - in fact the silicon solar cells we see on peoples` roofs are very expensive to produce and they also use a lot of electricity to purify," Bissett said.

"The overall efficiency of silicon solar cells are about 10 percent and even when they`re operating at optimal efficiency it could take eight to 15 years to make back the energy that it took to produce them in the first place because they`re produced using fossil fuels," he said.

While the amount of power generated by solar windows would not be enough to completely offset the energy consumption of a standard office building, Bissett said they still had many financial and environmental advantages.

"It`s basically like tinting the windows except they`re able to produce electricity, and considering office buildings don`t have a lot of roof space for solar panels it makes sense to utilise the many windows they do have instead," said Bisset.


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First Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - 16:16

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