A team from the University of Michigan is working to develop a solar window with an efficiency of 15%, which lets through 50% of the light. He received $ 1.3 million from the Office of Solar Energy Technologies of the Department of Energy to further develop the idea.

Last year, a team from the University of Michigan published research indicating that US could get 40% of its electricity from solar windows. His projection suggested that there were between 5,000 and 7,000 million square meters of usable windows, as well as solar windows with a 15% efficiency applied to the entire area, would approach that 40%.

The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Solar Technology has awarded a team at the University of Michigan a $ 1.3 million grant to further develop its organic solar cell window technology, from its current efficiency of 8% to a target of 15%. The project, Scalable, semi-transparent, reliable and efficient organic solar cells for building integrated applications, plans to develop a 50% transparent product, in rolls at low cost and with mass production.

The goal of the Office of Solar Technology’s overall program was to support research in the early stages, helping to get products out of the lab and being able to bring them to market.

© Joseph Xu, Michigan Engineering Communications & Marketing

Although the specific technology to be studied with this grant is not yet available, a team led by members of the University of Michigan projected in April that they were already achieving 15% efficiency with their organic solar cells, with the ‘goal of 18% in short. .

The researchers estimated that with an efficiency of 15% and a lifespan of 20 years, organic solar cells could produce electricity at a cost of less than $ 7 / kWh (grants were not mentioned, but this price would not be subsidized).

Globally, other projects are being developed in relation to building integrated photovoltaic energy (BIPV), which are starting to gain momentum in a few companies – for example, Onyx Solar, as well as the Italian project “NanoFarm”. And of course there are new solar tiles on the way – the Tesla solar roof and the RGS power plant.

It would be difficult to change all the windows in the United States, but it would be possible to include them in all new projects in addition to the architectural reforms that are produced. It would be a very applicable technology in the medium term.