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Transparent photovoltaic panels: are we facing the future of renewable energy?


According to many experts, they represent the new frontier of renewable energy: this is a product that could, in the future, be very high-performance, offer great value in terms of aesthetics, and above all, also find high application in commerce and industry.

What are transparent photovoltaic panels and how do they work?

The basic principle of transparent photovoltaic panels is the ability to illuminate an environment ( thus letting light through), while producing, at the same time, electricity.

Not only that: this type of panel also allows a kind of filtering of certain wavelengths, such as infrared or UV rays, which are absorbed for energy production and thus “captured” before they even enter the environment.

But how do they work in practice?

In engineering terms, these panels function as an energy concentrator, in that they are made to absorb only particular wavelengths (precisely uv and infrared rays).

In this way, only a small part of the solar spectrum is used, thus allowing light visible to the naked eye to pass through.

To achieve this technological marvel, researchers have developed a transparent luminescent solar concentrator, the TLSC, a .device consisting of organic salts that capture energy and literally move it to the edges of the panel. And it is here, on the edges, that we find conventionally functioning photovoltaic cells that use photons to move electrons and create energy.

According to the researchers’ estimates, once mass production of these particular panels begins, an efficiency of 10 percent could be achieved.

A figure that may not seem so relevant on the surface, but let’s try to imagine covering all the windows of offices, factories, stores and homes with this type of panel: the usable surface area would be superabundant and even a low efficiency would be enough to cover the energy needs of an entire city.

What materials are used?

They are normally made of plastic or otherwise glassy materials and can have varying degrees of transparency. On the market at present we can find two main types of transparent photovoltaic panels:

the first type, also called glass-glass panels, concerns those traditional panels that have two sheets of glass inside which are enclosed ordinary photovoltaic cells. These are called transparent, but in reality the only portion of light that manages to pass through is that which passes through the area between two photovoltaic cells.

The second type, also called solar glass , does not have actual cells on the surface but, based on the operation we explained above, still manages to produce energy using only the material with which it is made (such as silicon gel, graphene, or even an organic base).

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