Imagine if every single window inside a home or a commercial building, and maybe even all of the exterior walls of the structure, could somehow be channeled into generating electricity for the structure and functioning as solar collectors. It sounds like an invention from the future or from a science fiction novel, but in fact, the future may already be here through technology known as solar panel windows. You may not have to imagine this existing within a few years thanks to a Norwegian solar power company known as EnSol.
EnSol has recently patented the technology for a thin film solar cell that can be sprayed directly onto surfaces such as windows and exterior walls. That's right; they are literally making spray on solar panel windows. In contrast to traditional solar cells and panels, which are based on silicon, the spray on film is made up of tiny metal nano particles that are embedded inside of a composite matrix that is transparent and highly technological in nature. In fact, the spray on film operates through a different principle from traditional solar cells. In concert with the department of physics and astronomy at the Unviersity of Leicester, EnSol has begun to develop the product.
The advantages of this kind of solar panel are all over today's modern society. Instead of paying for hard, inflexible, and expensive traditional solar panels, which are extremely fragile and extremely difficult to repair, it might some day be possible to simply spray on the film and create solar panel windows out of what were formerly regular windows. The entire housing and electric industries could be transformed overnight through the technology, as the price competition could drive down the prices of traditional solar panels until both were affordable by more people.
There are a number of companies large and small that would also be interested in obtaining such technology. Companies everywhere are always looking for ways to maximize profits and cut costs in all areas of industry and workflow, and having to pay smaller electricity bills after turning entire factory walls into giant solar panels would be a cost effective way to reduce losses for heating, cooling, and all kinds of electrical power within a building. Companies that manufacture solar panels would also have a new product to create while remaining within the same field of designing energy efficient solutions for the modern world.
Of course, the technology still has a ways to go before it becomes readily available in stores for purchase. However, the technology already offers a number of advantages that are beginning to be taken advantage of by its creators. Professors of nanotechnology involved in the development of the solar panels speak of how the transparent film can be used to turn every window within a building into a power generator.
It is true that some light would need to be absorbed in order to create power from the sun, but the majority of the window would still be able to provide interior lighting and an external view once a slight tint had been applied. Similarly, the building's structural material could also include higher coatings to provide greater absorption and greater energy output. The technology is expected to be ready for purchase by home owners and businesses by the year 2016, which is less than five years away. The future is almost here.