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Coloured, Transparent Solar Cells on Buildings Convert 12% of Incoming Sun Energy


640_coloured-squaresOxford Photovoltaics received £2m grant to develop colourful, transparent solar cells, which can be placed on building facades, making the whole building capable to produce clean power.

The dyed glass is very close to being commercialized. According to Kevin Arthur, the company’s founder and CEO, there will not be a need to attach PV cells. The whole building will simply be made of them.

The cost for the building management will be only 10% higher, meaning that the new cell treatment will add not more than £100 per square metre.

The mechanism behind the technology is relatively simple. A layer of transparent solid-state solar cells is added to the conventional glass. This is expected to convert around 12% of the incoming solar energy into electricity, which can be used directly by the building, or exported to the national grid.

The company provides the option to print virtually any colour, however they remind the potential customers that colours are associated with efficiency, the darker the colour, the more efficient the solar glass.

The grant will be used for equipment and hiring of extra staff at the new base of the company in Begbroke Science Park near Oxford. The management hopes that they will soon be able to build a much bigger manufacturing facility, and samples of full-size panels will be available as early as end of 2014.

The company hopes to attract customers, who are planning to construct new buildings, although retrofits on the facades would also be very interesting to the developers.

While Oxford Photovoltaics is mastering their invention, a team at the University of Sheffield and University of Cambridge, developed a process to ‘spray paint’ the surface of solar cells using plastic semiconductors. The scientists are convinced that this would bring down costs significantly, although the research is still in its development stage.

For the first time last year, the solar power worldwide reached the impressive 100GW installed capacity, up from 71GW in 2011 and 40GW in 2010.

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