Many modern buildings feature architectural glass, both interior and exterior. It gives a sense of openness to the area and lets in plenty of ambient light. Photovoltaic glass could be used in some of these applications, but they filter too much light.
Photovoltaic architectural glass, at least on exterior windows, could be a good replacement for standard glass, since plenty of surface area is required in order to generate electricity from sunlight striking the surface of the building.
Photovoltaic glass reduces solar loading on the interior of the building, reducing costs associated with air-conditioning. On the other hand, photovoltaic glass is too dark to be used in areas where ambient light is desired.
A new photovoltaic glass, recently developed by Sharp, could be a functional replacement for current architectural glass. Instead of a solid photovoltaic material, Sharp’s new glass is slitted. For example, photovoltaic glass with a 10% aperture ratio has 0.1mm clear glass between each 0.9mm strip of photovoltaic material. The 20%-aperture glass reduces the photovoltaic material to 0.4mm.
Light passes through the glass to light up the interior of a room, but not as brightly as with clear glass. At the same time, the glass still generates electricity, but not as much as a full photovoltaic glass, a 0% aperture.
Sharp’s new photovoltaic architectural glass is manufactured in common sizes in Japan for use in room divisions, office windows, railings, and ceiling panels, as a direct replacement for standard clear architectural glass. The new glass will generate electricity in areas where it was previously impossible.