A next-generation window technology could gain momentum toward deployment, as Ubiquitous Energy reported last week it was invited to submit a secondary application for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Title XVII Loan Guarantee Program. The program’s loans are designed to support decarbonization technologies in their final stages of development prior to commercialization. The proposed loan guarantee would support development of a manufacturing facility where the Redwood City, Calif.-based company plans to produce transparent solar windows, providing “hundreds of new clean energy jobs” in the process.

In August 2019, Ubiquitous announced it was working on a new research and testing program for a transparent solar coating that can be applied to vertical surfaces, turning traditional glass into a source of electricity. (Photo courtesy of Ubiquitous Energy.)

In August 2019, Ubiquitous announced it was working on a new research and testing program for a transparent solar coating that can be applied to vertical surfaces, turning traditional glass into a source of electricity. A year later, the company announced it entered into an agreement with Andersen Corp. to jointly develop energy-generating door and window products designed to “revolutionize solar generation for residential and light commercial buildings.”

“We are thrilled to have been invited to submit a Part II application for the DOE’s highly competitive Title XVII Loan Guarantee Program,” said Susan Stone, CEO at Ubiquitous Energy. “This opportunity will allow us to accelerate the commercialization of our innovative transparent solar technology and bring it to market faster.”

To date, DOE’s program has provided more than $25 billion in loan guarantees, with another $62 billion available to accelerate commercial deployment. Eligible projects must utilize a new or significantly improved technology, avoid, reduce or sequester greenhouse gases, be located in the U.S. and have a reasonable prospect of repayment. According to program officials, while significant capital is available for decarbonization technologies, adequate debt capital remains limited. The program’s guaranteed loans are designed to serve as a “bridge to bankability,” providing access to loans and loan guarantees when private lenders are unwilling to fund projects that haven’t reached commercial acceptance.

Ubiquitous’ technology has achieved mainstream interest in recent weeks among key consumer media outlets, including an appearance in Forbes magazine’s real estate section and with technology news provider CNET. Company officials said its UE Power technology “produces solar electricity and integrates into standard windows without sacrificing beauty, design or views,” marking a departure from previous attempts at photovoltaic (PV) glass, which have so far failed to achieve transparency. Meanwhile, “With the built environment generating 40% of annual global CO2 emissions and the global building floor area expected to double by 2060, there is an urgent need for zero-emissions energy sources to power the present and propel the future,” officials for Ubiquitous suggested.

In an exclusive interview with [DWM] magazine, Andersen Corp. CEO Chris Galvin heralded the technology as a “transformational opportunity” for the industry.

“We’ve spent the last hundred years thinking about windows and doors as energy efficiency products, to keep the cold or heat in. If I could think of just about anything that will transform our industry … solar is going to be the technology,” Galvin said. “If you think about going from energy efficiency to actual energy generation, it completely changes the game and the role of windows. And the development that we’re doing with Ubiquitous is going to get us there.”

A proposed loan guarantee would support development of a manufacturing facility where Ubiquitous plans to produce transparent solar windows. (Photo courtesy of Ubiquitous Energy.)

By seeing PV windows through to commercialization, fenestration products will be viewed in terms of “total energy performance,” he said.
After launching a new corporate ventures capital arm, Andersen set out to “look into other industries, for innovative thought and outside-in thinking that could impact our space and our industry,” Galvin said. “That is one of the ways that we found Ubiquitous, was through this corporate ventures plus group that we have internally, which goes out and looks for these opportunities.”

Together, the two companies aim to develop windows that produce enough energy not only to run powered components, such as hardware, shades and blinds, but to eventually feed electricity to other items within the home and even to the local grid, Galvin said.

“If you can think about windows and doors rather than being efficient and losing energy, but gaining energy and collecting it from the sun, that’s the biggest transformation,” he said. “And I think it will probably take our industry in a different direction in terms of how we think about energy efficiency.”

For additional insights from Galvin, look for the upcoming March-April edition of [DWM] magazine.

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