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.