With no designs on solving the automotive fuel crisis (gastric or liquid), organic photovoltaic gurus at Heliatek in Dresden, Germany have created power-generating, transparent solar films that can be sandwiched between glass sheets to form double glazed windows. Placed in either residential or commercial environments, these would look just like tinted windows. And when in direct sunlight, they would generate power for use or for recycling back into the power grid.
Obviously, the film is not confined for use in windows and can be woven between glass formed as a decorative part of the structure and/or environment. As long as the solar film in whatever creation it resides receives light it will generate juice. For example, in the photo below of the terrace, the glass outer wall contains the solar film, tinted a rather non-noxious shade of green.
A versatile material, transparency level and color can be tuned to meet specific requirements. Accredited and independent testing facility SGS confirms Heliatek's lab cells achieve an efficiency of 7 % at a light transmission level of 23.5 %. Currently, Heliatek can produce a transparency level of up to 40% and possibly up to 50 % by 2014.
SGS has also verified several other specs in comparison to traditional solar films. For example, at an irradiation of 100 W/m², efficiency is 15 % higher than the standard efficiency measured at 1,000 W/m². Cell efficiency also remains constant with rising temperatures when compared to traditional solar technology where efficiency drops by 15 % to 20 % at higher temperatures.
The all too apparent goal of these transparent solar films is to turn building glass into energy harvesters that integrate into a building's design. As further evidence, Heliatek is involved in a joint development agreement with RECKLI, a manufacturer of elastic molds for concrete façades, to integrate its solar films onto concrete building walls. As a result, concrete walls become efficient solar energy harvesters without the need for supporting structures or cooling mechanisms.
The technology is cool, innovative, and set to take off. There’s only one little thing that kind of does not sit right. When gas was plentiful, car makers went ape making huge SAVs that burn a gallon or two just starting up. Now, few can afford the gas let alone the vehicle. In the case of power, we keep coming up with more ways to generate more power, therefore OEMs keep creating more products to consume more power, products few can afford, let alone the products used to power them. Oh well, change is always down and circular.