Transparent Solar Technology Represents Wave of the Future

Discussion in '[H]ard|OCP Front Page News' started by Montu, Oct 23, 2017.

  1. Montu

    Montu [H]ard DCOTM x4

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    According to researchers at Michigan State University see-through solar materials are the wave of the future. The thin, plastic-like material can be used on buildings, car windows, cell phones or other devices with a clear surface. Right now they aren't as efficient as traditional solar panels but they can get close and be applied to a lot more surface area. I expect one day every window in this country will be utilizing this technology and we'll have a truly distributed energy generating grid.

    "Highly transparent solar cells represent the wave of the future for new solar applications," said Richard Lunt, the Johansen Crosby Endowed Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at MSU. "We analyzed their potential and show that by harvesting only invisible light, these devices can provide a similar electricity-generation potential as rooftop solar while providing additional functionality to enhance the efficiency of buildings, automobiles and mobile electronics."
     
  2. Nukester

    Nukester Gawd

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    This is unique and something I've never heard or read about. However, it won't see the light of day anytime soon.
     
  3. nutzo

    nutzo [H]ardness Supreme

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    So this is less efficient but more expensive than regular solar panels.

    Just wait until the car window on your electric car gets hit by a rock, and it costs $2,000 to replace.
     
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  4. Kdawg

    Kdawg Limp Gawd

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    very few plastic materials can withstand sun damage. They all turn brittle, foggy, or yellow. They would need an indestructible UV layer, and so far, I have seen no such thing.

    So using them in transparent solar applications is doubtful.
     
  5. Devilpup

    Devilpup [H]ard|Gawd

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    Funny thing to make solar panels out of something that is very vulnerable to UV damage, but w/e. As a proof of concept I like it, the idea of taking building windows and generating power from them is something worth investigating further as it could dramatically change the concept of renewable energy applications. You could potentially turn an entire high rise building into a giant solar panel, something not possible without making the panels transparent.

    At a micro level it may make an interesting application to use it in screens of phones and laptops, making it possible to charge your device just by keeping it outside of your pocket. It's definitely not a tech we'll see on the market in the next few years but still worth pursuing IMO.
     
  6. velusip

    velusip Gawd

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    Nope.

    In the very distant future when solar panel and battery tech finally supplant all existing power generation through low-cost manufacturing, and when land and grid licensing fees becomes the greatest expense to power generation, using the vertical surface area of sky scrapers may become an option. Even then, they still need to overcome some major challenges. Monocrystalline PV cells are extremely difficult to form over large surfaces, and since it would be an enormous waste to recycle defective panels on a large pane of glass, they need to be a lower efficiency, removeable/replacable type. Then you need to deal with contacts and wiring of a thin film panel layed on the sides of buildings. Try to rationalize the maintenance of the vertical power management and distribution network from the inside or out at a 1-5% efficiency cell, at non-ideal indicent angles of Sunlight for short periods of the day through the thickest angle of atmosphere.

    Best case scenario, coastal, East/West building facets would be utilized. But even with unobstructed views of the Sun, coupled with the reflection off water would provide little to no advantage over installing a much cheaper, more rubust system on the roofs of all inner city buildings.
     
  7. Verge

    Verge [H]ardness Supreme

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    They better be damn cheap to use as a window on a house or electric car. People have no friggin clue how little electricity a traditional panel would deliver in those situations.
     
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  8. BlueFireIce

    BlueFireIce [H]ardness Supreme

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    Except most windows only see direct sunlight for short times of the day, if ever at all depending on what side of a house/building its on, and the angle windows are at would hurt things as well, as all these ratings are under ideal conditions with direct sunlight, this is why solar panels are placed in fields or on roof tops and why the most efficient systems can tilt to follow the sun as it moves through the day.

    Dont get me wrong, some power and in locations not before used is great and all, but price better be dirt cheap to ever be worth it for the power one of these will end up putting out, ROI on normal solar is long enough, add in the reduced efficiency and even less direct sun time and you would be lucky for it to ever hit ROI.
     
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  9. oldmanbal

    oldmanbal Gawd

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    Their will be specialists that can offer bids to commercial projects that include similar clear solar solutions in the future that will enable companies/developers to determine the feasibility on a case per case basis. If it saves money for even 1 person there will be a market for it.
     
  10. mynamehere

    mynamehere [H]ard|Gawd

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    Nice unintentional pun.
     
  11. RayderR6

    RayderR6 Limp Gawd

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    It's fucking brilliant and as time goes, down comes the price and it becomes even more brilliant.
     
  12. Gigus Fire

    Gigus Fire [H]ard|Gawd

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    this is a pretty stupid idea
     
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  13. Chas

    Chas [H]ardness Supreme

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    This tech has actually been around for the better part of a decade now. It's just made it's way down from "The Sultan of Brunei said "FUCK YOU! TOO EXPENSIVE" " to "Ow. You want a testicle too?".
     
  14. Chas

    Chas [H]ardness Supreme

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    Not really.

    It has potential in some highly specialized applications.

    In other words, you don't want to put it on every window in a skyscraper.

    But, windows with a more or less correct, unobstructed-all-day south (or north in the southern hemisphere) facing view could see big returns, as that can be a LOT of surface area.

    [​IMG]

    Like here in Chicago, the Sears Tower has a SHITLOAD of available, working surface area. Literally HUNDREDS of square meters.
    Remember, your average solar panel is about 1.67 square meters and a 3KW install is about 12-15 panels (20-25 sq meters). And that's for middle-of-the-road panel output. Some of the more efficient ones can do 3KW in 8-9 panels.


    Do a bit of shadow tracking for 311 South Wacker (the tallest building just to the left) and the AT&T Center (the tallest building just to the right) and don't apply below the level of CBOT (the building directly in front of the Sears Tower).
    The building's total surface area is something like 351,000 sq meters. If even 1/10th of that is usable, that's 35,100 square meters. If this tech is HALF the efficiency of average panels, you're looking at something like 2.5 MEGAWATTS of power total, optimally. Realistically, due to the way the sun hits, you could probably see an average of 1/4 of that on a year-round basis. So, oh darn, 600KW (roughly enough to power about 120 homes).
     
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  15. M76

    M76 [H]ardness Supreme

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    But why? It's not like we ran out of space where we can put solar panels. Putting it on a dedicated solar farm, where the panels can track the sun it will be 50-70% more efficient, and cheaper. This is eerily similar to solar freaking roadways.
     
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  16. MrDeaf

    MrDeaf [H]Lite

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    If Costa Rica is any indication, distributed power generation works better during disasters.
    These sound like they can be installed in place of windows on buildings, although the efficiency would be questionable.

    I do hear you on the solar roadways being a silly idea.
     
  17. M76

    M76 [H]ardness Supreme

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    It's still seems better to put a tracking array on top of each building than to replace the windows and run the panels at 20% overall efficiency. And even then it only works on higher floors where other buildings don't block the sun, and only for half of the day. While a rooftop array can work at peak efficiency from sunrise to sundown on taller buildings.
     
  18. Gigus Fire

    Gigus Fire [H]ard|Gawd

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    Most skyscraper windows are extremely dark and tinted. There's no need for transparent solar panels on them as people expect privacy in these buildings. It's also very expensive and less efficient.

    That's why i say it's a stupid idea.
     
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  19. Chas

    Chas [H]ardness Supreme

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    You're assuming the film goes on the INSIDE.
     
  20. Riccochet

    Riccochet Necrodancer

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    Solar won't be viable until you can produce as much power as a coal or nuclear plant on the same amount of land/space that a coal or nuclear plant occupies.
     
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  21. Gasaraki_

    Gasaraki_ Limp Gawd

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    Yeah. So stupid. It's like you can't a privacy film BEHIND this or WAIT FOR THIS... Put this as the "glass" layer on solar panels and then you have two layers generating electricity.
     
  22. DeeFrag

    DeeFrag [H]ardness Supreme

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    This is clearly the wave of the future.
     
  23. M76

    M76 [H]ardness Supreme

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    Yeah, but why put it on a window at all? A window that is at best 60 degrees angle towards the sun lowering the efficiency of the panel to a mere 40% just by that alone. it's not tracking either so another 60% lost there, it will barely generate any measurable electricity and cost a fortune to install and wire up.

    Just because you can put solar panels on something doesn't mean you should. We didn't need transparent solar cells, if it was a good idea to install solar panels on buildings outer walls we already could've on the parts without windows. But the reason we didn't is because it's a stupid idea, why loose most of the potential energy generation capacity compared to more suitable locations?

    I repeat the only scenario where this would be a good idea is if we had absolutely no other space for solar panels.
     
  24. Gigus Fire

    Gigus Fire [H]ard|Gawd

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    If you really want to take this route, then put it in front of everything. All the brick homes could use a layer of transparent plastic, all the sidewalks could use a layer of transparent plastic, all the trashcans can have a layer of transparent plastic.
    If this shit is really that cheap to throw on anything and not care about cost, then sure, wonderful. But like the article said, it's more expensive than traditional solar panels and less efficient.
     
  25. drescherjm

    drescherjm [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I swear I have seen similar claims before although no known products.
     
  26. velusip

    velusip Gawd

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    Oh I'm aware. I like to refer to the hydrogen engine funds. Billions in investments for supposed military applications, even though it's a ridiculous round-about tech. Federal endorsements create some weird, ass-backwards capitalism.
     
  27. Krenum

    Krenum [H]ardForum Junkie

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    We've been hearing about "Wave of the future" solar technology for decades now.....Where the hell are they? I don't see any in my city other than a few solar panels on traffic lights. No solar skyscrapers or farms, only a few here and there on peoples houses.
     
  28. oldmanbal

    oldmanbal Gawd

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    Right on, I'll believe in hydrogen when it's a shipping product.
     
  29. rudy

    rudy [H]ardness Supreme

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    Plenty of plastic materials can withstand sun damage, go look around any house, most of them have plastic siding, plastic lawn equipment, plastic is everywhere. These guys are engineers I am pretty sure that they are considering this in their research. There is also plenty of windows all over the world that are made of plastic. Products like lexan come to mind. They are used in places like garages where kids are hitting the windows with basketballs all the time.

    If you read the article you will actually see that they are harvesting the UV rays, that is how the panel can generate electricity without absorbing visible light. Maybe you are confused because the first post here makes a mistake and says these absorb visible light.

    If you read the article you will see that they are looking to tune these to absorb certain wavelengths of light. So eventually they are probably going to try and produce panels that do the tinting which allows them to absorb some extra light. Also the tinting on skyscrapers isn't all about privacy, because at night you can see right in them no matter how dark they are tinted. Tinting is about saving energy costs by reflecting away a large portion of the light during the day especially UV, and about getting a certain look. So that means that tinting under the panel might actually increase the efficiency of these panels.

    Why put solar panels in places other than windows if it can work on windows? One of the big problems with humans is we are taking over every bit of space on earth and leaving nothing left for nature. If we already have a surface, such as a window that serves no purpose to nature other than being a bird assassin, why not put it to a little extra use? If the cost can be brought down low enough I think its a good thing. There are also other factors. It cost money to move electricity over a distance, so maybe you can make a concentrated solar farm in a desert, but then you need to transport it. If you can get electrical generation on a office sky scraper it can generate electricity largely during the day when people are working in the office right there on the site. And it can be made a little more efficient because of economies of scale and exposure to the sun than say putting a ton of little solar panels on houses that are blocked by trees etc....

    Another couple points, at some point in the future we are going to see a standard for DC power plugs in homes. It just needs to happen since almost all our electronic devices now days are DC instead of AC. This will increase the value of solar installations. Imagine a giant office building with DC plugs, where you can plug your phones, computers and other DC devices in without the need for a wall wart of PSU.
     
  30. Chas

    Chas [H]ardness Supreme

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    Yeah. That's NEVER happening. Solar, quite literally CANNOT be that energy-dense.

    But, it can be viable well before that. Efficiency keeps going up. Panels are getting more durable.

    Now, give storage technology another decade or two to improve, and an unsubsidized solar+storage system should be possible.
    Right now, the whole reason solar enjoys it's place is the massive subsidies available. Depending on location, those subsidies wipe out between 25-50% of a system's install cost.

    There are ongoing costs of new batteries every 5-10 years though, and this is what hurts most in the long run.
    And while most panels are guaranteed from 10-25 years, panel systems can continue operation indefinitely, at gradually diminishing levels. So a well-maintained panel system kept in good repair could, conceivably, have a lifespan of between 3-5 decades (possibly longer)
    But you're talking somewhere between 5 and 10 complete sets of batteries. And you're not talking a couple hundred bucks for a new car battery. You're talking probably somewhere between 5 and 10 grand for a properly spec'ed bank of batteries unless you're set to go "keep the fridge on and nothing else".
     
  31. dangerouseddy

    dangerouseddy Limp Gawd

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    I think most outdoor plastic items have a uv protective coating or uv stabilisers to stop damage, so if this panel uses uv I don't know how it would work with any uv protection in the plastic.
     
  32. Kdawg

    Kdawg Limp Gawd

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    that's what i'm talking about. Lexan turns yellow when the UV layer fails. It's like the polycarbonate shit yellowing car headlights are made of.
     
  33. rudy

    rudy [H]ardness Supreme

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    First the UV protective attributes could be the energery generation feature, second even if it yellows over 10 years like a car headlight so what if its very thin you hardly see it, glass is green actually. Like I mentioned I am pretty sure the engineers are aware of the obstacles and working to overcome them or just going around them.