Harnessing solar power in the home currently means installing solar panels on rooftops or, if Elon Musk is successful, solar tiles. But Michigan State University (MSU) has other ideas. It wants houses to generate a lot of solar energy, but without the roof modification.
How can you add solar power generation to a building without it being visible? You use transparent panels of solar cells positioned over each window.
While MSU researchers weren’t the first ones to come up with the idea of transparent solar panels, its predecessors yielded minimal results. The materials were highly colored despite being slightly transparent, and the energy production was very insignificant.
The solution proposed by MSU was for the transparent solar panels to be specially tuned to generate electricity using light that is not visible to the human eye instead of visible light. This is called a luminescent solar contractor.
Now imagine those transparent panels added to every sheet of glass in a skyscraper, and every home or car window, and you can see the potential for invisible energy generation.
#MSU transparent solar technology could help produce 40% of U.S. electricity. https://t.co/EhosAhawn1 #SpartansWill pic.twitter.com/VBnfpkewZV— MSU (@michiganstateu) October 23, 2017
The concept of transparent solar panels includes specific properties to guide the ultraviolet and infrared spectrum of light through reflection and refraction to the edges of the glass which are to shine with this light.
the process of refraction of this light towards the edges greatly reduces the efficiency, as a large part of it is lost due to inefficient refraction and reflection, and part due to scattering.