Archive for the ‘Solar Power’ Category

Ponder the Possibilities of Solar Panel Windows

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

In the news today: MIT researchers may have finally found an effective way to combine a solar panel and a window. This could be huge.

The technology works like this: Dyes are strategically cast into glass so as to refract certain parts of the spectrum along/within the glass rather than allowing it to pass through. All this redirected light then shines out the edges of the panel in a high concentration. By simply placing narrow solar panels around the edges of the glass, the amount of expensive solar paneling is minimized without sacrificing the amount of solar radiation “caught”.

mit_solar_panes_325.jpg

And then, of course, there's the additional benefit that this is a window. Not a normal window, but a tinted one. So it is a little unconventional, but let's consider some of the possibilities of this:

  • What if we built a greenhouse entirely out of these windows (walls and ceiling) and allowed the dyes to use just the blue/yellow part of the spectrum to send to the solar panels? Remember, yellow and blue makes green, and that's the part that plants don't use. The green that we see when we look at a leaf is essentially the “waste” part of the light. So you'd have a solar array that doubles as a greenhouse. The windows would appear red to us.
  • Next idea: for a human space, what about just the opposite. After all, we like the greenish light that filters down through a forest canopy to our level. Again, “free” solar power on top of this pleasant effect.
  • Here's a crazy one: what about custom-tinted skylights to complement the colors of a room? If you've spent much time inside of churches with stained glass windows, you know that these colored windows can have a huge effect on the feeling of colors that receive the light … almost like a way of engineering emotions. This could be a whole new discipline within the field of decorating/design.