SolarWindow Coating on Glass Could Generate 300 Percent Energy Savings over Rooftop SystemsJanuary 17th, 2012 by DWM Magazine
New Energy Technologies Inc. of Columbia, Md., recently introduced the SolarWindow technology. The United States Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory and New Energy have been working through a cooperative research and development agreement to advance the new technology, capable of generating electricity on see-through glass.
DWM magazine spoke to John Conklin, president and CEO of New Energy Technologies, about the new technology.
DWM: What’s the technology?
JC: We are not at the stage of disclosing the names of the polymers used for SolarWindow, other than the technology is related to organic photovoltaic (OPV) cell technology.
Spin coating of OPV is a very common technique for small area cells of approximately 1 square centimeter. New Energy’s ‘spray’ technique allows the application of the electricity-generating coating to be applied in a very large area. Our largest SolarWindow using the ‘spray’ technique is 1-foot-by-1-foot. The cell size is variable and determined for coating techniques and methods, coating speed and type of surface (i.e., glass, plastic, etc.).
The use of SolarWindow to generate electrical power in natural and artificial light has been a focus since early research. SolarWindow provides many benefits for electrical power production including: see-through window capable of generating electricity applied to entire facades of a tall tower, not limited to confined rooftop space; electricity from sunlight, artificial light and low light; and aesthetic look of today’s popular window tint and films. New Energy’s electricity-generating liquid coatings can be sprayed on to glass or applied using other inexpensive methods. [The] SolarWindow coatings are applied without high-temperature or pressure – an expensive and time-consuming process.
DWM: What’s the potential energy savings?
JC: The application of SolarWindow to exterior glass surfaces of commercial towers could generate energy savings several-fold greater than today’s rooftop solar systems. In commercial applications, such as the building facades of office towers, engineers conservatively estimate that installation of SolarWindow can generate more than 300 percent energy savings over conventional rooftop solar systems. Key to maximizing energy production, SolarWindow can be applied to the extensive glass surfaces on commercial skyscrapers, an important advantage over conventional solar systems confined to installation on space-prohibitive rooftops. For example, engineers modeling a 40-story building, similar to Tampa’s landmark “100 North Tampa,” estimate annual cost-savings of $40,000 to $70,000 when installing SolarWindow to exposed window facades. In contrast, mounting today’s popular poly-crystalline silicon modules on the rooftop produces only $20,000 in energy savings per year.
DWM: Has it been used in any projects?
JC: No, SolarWindow is in stages of product development and not in commercial use or installed as a demonstration project.
DWM: What comes next?
JC: A few of our current goals and objectives are: further bolster SolarWindow efficiency and transparency; boost electrical power (current and voltage) output; optimize the application of the active layer coatings which make it possible for SolarWindow to generate electricity on different surfaces for building integrated photovoltaic uses; develop improved electricity-generating coatings by enhancing performance, processing, reliability and durability; increase transparency and enhance color attributes; lower cost [of] manufacturing by focusing on SolarWindow electricity generating coatings being fully solution processable under ambient temperature and pressure; and developing faster, rapid scale-up process for applying solution-based coatings.
In upcoming quarters and the year ahead, we anticipate undertaking significant efforts to accelerate our SolarWindow towards commercialization. We plan to provide additional details regarding our roadmap to commercialization in the near future.