Imagine a world where our glass windows and smart phone screens can generate electricity too. This seemingly futuristic proposition is fast turning into a reality of our time. Transparent solar glass is a kind of glass designed to harness the energy of invisible light while providing other benefits of a regular architectural glass.
Solar cells typically make energy by absorbing photons (sunlight) and converting them into electrons (electricity). If a material is transparent, however, by definition it means that all of the light passes “through” the medium and none is absorbed. This is why most transparent solar panels in the past have only been partially transparent.
This was until Researchers at the Michigan State University came up with a different technique which focuses on absorbing specific wavelengths of invisible ultraviolet and infrared light using special organic salts and still letting through visible light from the sun. This provides a practical, yet unobtrusive means of energy generation for our homes and glassy skyscrapers.
How can Nigeria benefit from this technology?
Scientists have argued that by harvesting only non-visible light, transparent solar glass can provide a similar energy generation potential as traditional roof-top mounted solar panels. A combined application of both can provide all or most of the energy required to power most Nigerian homes and offices thereby significantly offsetting the huge energy deficits plaguing the country. The screens of portable electronic gadgets like smart phones, iPads, calculators etc. can also be incorporated with transparent solar glass to enhance battery life.
Some of the manufacturers who have started production of transparent solar glass include Onyx, Amerisolar, etc.