Invisible Solar Cells - What Are They?

By Guest Contributor
April 27, 2017
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We have come a very long way from the first line of solar panels. Despite their sustainability, the first solar panels were not the most appealing aesthetically. Well with the newer, sleeker panels available today, that is no longer an issue. But solar panels are no longer the only method to generate solar energy. The Swiss firm SCEM has developed the world's first "invisible" solar cells.

Architects have asked for a way to customize solar elements for them to blend into buildings. Now, with invisible solar cells making an appearance, that will not be a problem anymore - we may no longer need to restrict solar energy to rooftops. Skyscrapers with massive banks of windows could be the ideal space for invisible solar cells.

Positioning of Invisible Solar Cells

The thought of invisible solar cells being installed into skyscrapers windows in a city and turning that city into a huge solar energy harvesting ecosystem would have a tremendous impact on our planet. But, before our imagination runs wild, we should keep in mind that for solar cells to work properly, they must be facing south, and that shade from surrounding building might just make them useless. Either way, this new invention together with a handful of scientists and startups who are working hard to improve the technology has high hopes for the future.

How Do Invisible Solar Cells Function?

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First, you need to understand that the sun transmits energy in the form of invisible ultraviolet and infrared light as well as visible light. These invisible solar cells are engineered only to capture light from the invisible ends of the spectrum, allowing all other light to pass through, and this causes them to appear transparent. This process made it possible for crystalline silicon-based solar technologies to be molded into modules that can blend in with building surfaces of any color, including pure white. In effect, this makes the panels look as good as invisible.

Invisible Solar Cells Benefits

  • Invisible solar cells work at a much lower temperature because they do not rely on visible light to generate heat.
  • They can be used on nearly all surfaces from tall building windows to cars.
  • Applying them to existing infrastructure is not a problem.
  • Implementation into other consumer product is possible.
  • They look like glass.

If having solar power while keeping the traditional look of the house is not a good enough reason to invest in invisible solar cells, then having better solar power might be. We need to expand the amount of real estate that can be outfitted with solar, to take advantage of the sun's power truly. This is beginning to becoming a reality thanks to this invisible invention.

Author BIO:
Matt Reilly is a home improvement and green technology writer working for Reilly Roofing and Gutters, San Antonio.  He promotes sustainable living, particularly green roofing and solar energy.

References: 

https://www.csem.ch/Home  
https://www.greenoptimistic.com/first-ever-invisible-solar-panels-developed-swiss-20141029/#.WQBgy_mGPct  

Images: 

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2015-03-23/invisible-solar-cells-that-could-power-skyscrapers
https://www.greenoptimistic.com/

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