Roof mounted solar panels may soon be overtaken as the best way to harness energy from the sun for use in our homes, offices and even cars. New technologies are being developed where conductive coatings or particles are either laminated with regular glass sheets or embedded within the glass in order to produce a material which is transparent, flexible and can generate electricity.
SolarWindow are looking to make their newest product commercially available, an ultra-thin solar film that can be applied to curved glass surfaces. Also, new technology has been developed at the University of Minnesota and University of Milano-Bicocca, where silicon nanoparticles have been embedded into luminescent solar concentrators to increase the efficiency of solar windows. Together, these technologies are bringing us closer to houses and skyscrapers, which could potentially act as one large solar panel, harnessing enough energy from the sun to power not only themselves but feed back into the grid.
And as we know, glass is not only used in buildings - cars, buses, trains and even aircraft could potentially use these new materials and the solar energy they produce in order decrease their reliance on fossil fuels and reduce their contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.