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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
Green Building Bible, fourth edition (both books)
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    • CommentAuthorlineweight
    • CommentTimeDec 17th 2015 edited
    "Researchers at Michigan State University have created a fully transparent solar concentrator, which could turn any window or sheet of glass (like your smartphone’s screen) into a photovoltaic solar cell.

    "Unlike other “transparent” solar cells that we’ve reported on in the past, this one really is transparent, as you can see in the photos throughout this story. According to Richard Lunt, who led the research, the team are confident that the transparent solar panels can be efficiently deployed in a wide range of settings, from “tall buildings with lots of windows or any kind of mobile device that demands high aesthetic quality like a phone or e-reader.”


    If it works, generates enough, and isn't prohibitively expensive, then this looks great.

    But usually with these things it seems to turn out that they fail on one of those points.

    Am wondering if anyone else has come across this and looked into it in any detail.

    Is it "solar freakin roadways" all over again?
    • CommentTimeDec 17th 2015
    This was reported in my weekly comic a few years back.

    I think the main problem is the very low efficiency of the system.
    All they are doing is bending some of the UV light to the edges, where there is a normal PV cell.

    So take a bit of glass that is 1.6 m by 1 m by 0.008 m (8mm). That is equivalent to the size of a normal PV panel of about 285Wp.
    The cell area would be up to about 0.0128 m^2, so would be somewhere about 4Wp.
    Unless they have come up with something new recently.
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeDec 17th 2015
    Not just UV but also near IR, they say (so suspect they're not using silicon PV).

    It's a concentrator so you can't work out the power just from the area.

    But, yes, without knowing a lot more than is in the video it's difficult to make any sensible judgement.
    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeDec 17th 2015
    I reckon combining tasks of building materials is not a good idea.

    Insulating blocks = cracking, poor structure, more expensive, needs insulation anyway etc
    What efficiency are they claiming for these ones? The last ones linked to on here were under 2% at that time.
    • CommentAuthorShevek
    • CommentTimeDec 18th 2015
    Posted By: tonyI reckon combining tasks of building materials is not a good idea.

    Insulating blocks = cracking, poor structure, more expensive, needs insulation anyway etc

    Sometimes synergistic though. When we build a green house we're going to use that transparent orange PV glass you can get. Filters out what it needs to produce energy and lets through the rest, which the plants need.
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeDec 18th 2015 edited
    Posted By: Chris P BaconWhat efficiency are they claiming for these ones?
    The video makes no efficiency claims or mentions any other numbers. Draw your own conclusions.

    Mostly I think it's a matter of cost. If the incremental cost over a standard window is low enough then a high level of efficiency isn't required.

    E.g., there's Polysolar [¹] in the UK who do translucent panels for greenhouses, etc. Trouble is (or was, while since I looked) the cost of their panels is greater than the cost of polycarbonate plus the equivalent number of separate panels. OK if you're really stuck for space otherwise difficult to justify.

    [¹] http://www.polysolar.co.uk/
    • CommentAuthorlineweight
    • CommentTimeDec 18th 2015
    There's a little bit more detail here


    "Michigan’s TLSC currently has an efficiency of around 1%, but they think 5% should be possible. Non-transparent luminescent concentrators (which bathe the room in colorful light) max out at around 7%. On their own these aren’t huge figures, but on a larger scale — every window in a house or office block — the numbers quickly add up. Likewise, while we’re probably not talking about a technology that can keep your smartphone or tablet running indefinitely, replacing your device’s display with a TLSC could net you a few more minutes or hours of usage on a single battery charge."

    including link to research paper

    • CommentAuthorringi
    • CommentTimeDec 18th 2015
    Maybe if you want lots of windows in a building (e.g. office) this glass will reduce the AC requirement while also generating a little power. Removeing the IR sounds good for office blocks, but not homes.
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeDec 18th 2015
    Posted By: ringiRemoveing the IR sounds good for office blocks, but not homes.
    Yep. Depends on the climate as well, of course.
    • CommentAuthorShevek
    • CommentTimeDec 21st 2015 edited
    For your info, I signed up to a website and found a price for the Polysolar.

    The unframed 1100 mm x 1300 mm Polysolar a-Si Photovoltaic Module PS-C-901 panels, with 8% efficiency, go for £200 + VAT, wholesale.

    - Weight: 24kg.
    - Connections: MC4
    - They're connected in parallel, so shading of one panel doesn't have an effect on the others.
    - Material: laminate glass (float glass on front, heat treated on back)
    - And "as the panels work in low and ambient light conditions, at high temperatures and because they can uniquely generate power from both sides the energy yields from a Polysolar system average a higher output over a year than conventional PV systems."
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeDec 21st 2015
    Thanks Shevek - good news that they're a bit cheaper than a year or two ago. Of course, that's the wholesale price …

    One thing to note about these panels is their high voltage. Fine for grid-tie inverters but, particularly when they're new, getting close to the limits for many off-grid MPPT charge controllers which typically blow up above 150 V (though some of the recent ones go a bit higher).
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