Since the discovery of solar power approximately 60 years ago, its many innovative uses have led to numerous ways to save energy and create efficiency. From solar energy used to power satellites in space exploration in the late 1950s to solar power plants in 1982, solar energy continued to evolve. (1)
Of course, the growth of solar didn’t stop there. Solar has since expanded into powering a range of devices from tiny lights to recreational vehicles and residential homes through solar powered panels. As technology evolves, the development of solar energy and solar panels continues to see exciting new breakthroughs.
Among the breakthroughs comes the addition of transparent solar concentrators that can be installed on most transparent surfaces like windows. The development by assistant professor of Chemical Engineering and Material Science from Michigan State University, Richard Lunt, allows for the discreet harvest of solar energy without affecting incoming light. (2)
Solar Panels – The Future Is Clear
From observing properties of light to finding new ways to convert light into power, solar has evidently come a long way since its initial discovery. But the evolution of solar power technology is always advancing.
Solar power allows for a mass reduction of the use of fossil fuel resulting in clean, effective, and affordable energy that may also help save the environment.
Transparent solar technology produced by researchers at Michigan State University provides evidence that the world of solar continues to mature. Previous researchers even attempted to create transparent panels such as these, but their final products were found to be unsatisfying.
Lunt, alongside colleagues, created a transparent luminescent solar concentrator. The technology uses organic molecules that work through absorbing light wavelengths such as infrared and ultraviolet light. When placed on a window, the transparent solar concentrator not only creates solar energy, but it does so without blocking or disrupting the view.
“Highly transparent solar cells represent the wave of the future for new solar applications,” Lunt says. The advancement of these transparent solar panels is comparable to the electricity-generation that’s promised by rooftop solar panels. The transparent panels can not only be used in countless architectural applications, but in the auto industry and even mobile electronics. (2)
The Power of Solar
Lunt states that currently, “Solar technologies are only at about a third of their realistic overall potential.” With this new transparent panel technology, it’s intentioned to aid in the elimination of global energy consumption away from fossil fuels.
Because these thin, plastic-like transparent panels can be affixed to clear surfaces such as car windows and buildings, the possibilities for efficiency are endless. It’s estimated there are approximately 5-7 billion square meters of glass surfaces in the United States. This means there is an overwhelming potential to aid in supplying approximately 40% of the energy used in the U.S. via transparent solar panels.
“Traditional solar applications have been actively researched for over five decades, yet we have only been working on these highly transparent solar cells for about five years. Ultimately, this technology offers a promising route to inexpensive, widespread solar adoption on small and large surfaces that were previously inaccessible.” (2) So what he’s saying is…the future is clear.