Colored Solar Glass Pretty, Yet Powerful Enough to Generate Electricity for an Entire Building

By: | October 30th, 2013

Colored solar glass isn't just aesthetically pleasing, it can also generate enough energy for an entire building. Image courtesy zmescience.com

Colored solar glass isn't just aesthetically pleasing, it can also generate enough energy for an entire building. Image courtesy zmescience.com

Oxford Photovoltaics, a commercial offshoot of the University of Oxford, has developed colorful and transparent glass that can generate electricity from the sun’s energy. This semi-transparent dyed glass that acts as a solar panel enables an entire building to act as a solar panel. The colorful glass adds a very small extra cost to the building’s façade.

Solar cell makers have long used dark colors, most often black, to increase the cell’s photon-absorbing power and thus to improve the cell’s energy efficiency. The solar glass can be almost any color; however, the efficiency varies depending on the color. While black has the highest efficiency, blue isn’t so good.

The technology developed by Oxford Photovoltaics works by adding a layer of transparent colored, non-toxic organic solar cell materials that’s three microns thick, at most, to conventional glass. The colored glass works really well and produces clean renewable energy.

The additional cost of a solar glass building with this technology would be no greater than 10% of typical glass building façades. It’s believed that the solar glass could eventually replace conventional solar PV in glass buildings. Oxford Photovoltaics CEO Kevin Arthur says you can expect to see test modules in 2014.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. You can also find Nidhi on Google+.

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One thought on “Colored Solar Glass Pretty, Yet Powerful Enough to Generate Electricity for an Entire Building

  1. October 30, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    Thank you for sharing this, I had no idea that solar sheeting could be any colour, or even transparent. Mainly because, as you stated, the traditional solar panels are black. I used to work in the glass industry, and in more than a few cases, on high rise commercial buildings, which are built to look as though they are made entirely of glass. The idea that the entire exterior of a building could be a solar panel is amazing. Even taking into consideration the reduced efficiency of the various colours, I am sure that this would significantly reduce the electricity bill of a building that size. Not to mention its carbon footprint.
    My question would be though, can this material be applied after the fact. As in, could already existing buildings apply this solar material to their already existent glass windows? Or is the process of application taken place in a clean room?

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