Windows to the Future – Integrated Solar

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has developed the window of the future by integrating solar collectors directly into the glass pane.  These new windows will not only provide a view and ambient light, but also harness the sunlight to power the home or building they are part of.  MIT engineers report a new approach to harnessing the sun’s energy that could allow just that.

The work, which will be reported in an issue of Science, involves the creation of a unique “solar concentrator.”  “Sun light is collected over a large surface (such as a window) and focused, or concentrated, at the edges,” explains Marc A. Baldo, leader of the work and the Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Career Development Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering.

The end result is that instead of covering the roof of a building with expensive photovoltaic cells (the semiconductor that converts sunlight into electricity), the solar cells only need to be around the edges of a flat glass panel.  In addition, the focused light increases the electrical power obtained from each solar cell “by a factor of over 40,” Baldo says.

MIT VideoThis technology is a huge advancement for solar generation because the system is easy to manufacture, and the MIT development team believes that it could be implemented within three years.  The system could even be added onto existing solar-panel systems to boost their power generation by 50 percent for a low installation cost.  This is a huge developmental step toward reducing the cost of installing solar electricity generation methods into existing buildings.

 Read the complete story, video, images at the MIT Web Site