New British technology could turn windows into solar panels

Transparent solar panel manufacturer Polysolar predicts that Britain’s estimated 1 billion windows could become the power generators of the future, letting light through while also harnessing solar energy.
New British technology could turn windows into solar panels
Courtesy of Polysolar

Polysolar has launched a fundraising programme on CrowdCube after extensive trials of the technology which, the firm claims, is the first truly transparent alternative to conventional solar panels generating renewable energy without spoiling building aesthetics. A typical Polysolar glass panel measuring 1200mm x 600m can generate an average 5 kWh of power per month, equivalent to half a day’s consumption for the average home. This means that if the London Shard, which has enough glass to surface eight football fields, was fitted with Polysolar glass, it could generate 2,500 MWh per year. This would be enough, when combined with a reduction in air-conditioning loads, to create a zero-carbon building or power the annual energy needs of 1,000 houses.

Currently, a typical panel will cost about twice the price of a conventional glass window, but when volume production begins, the price could fall to a 10 percent premium on the cost of conventional glass.

Installations to date include the UK's first solar powered glass bus shelter at Canary Wharf, petrol station canopies for Sainsbury’s, building facades and roofing for Network Rail as well as energy-generating domestic carports, conservatories, and greenhouses. One domestic trial featured a transparent glass roof to a garage and workshop that met the complete power needs of the owner’s electric car and home.

The market opportunity, according to independent analysis, could be $26 billion for building integrated photovoltaics by 2022, still just a small fraction of the overall building glass market.

“We’re delighted to be launching our crowd funding programme today to accelerate the growth of our company” said Hamish Watson, CEO of Polysolar. “We’ve invested over £1.5 million to get where we are today and we now have a commercial product, a huge potential market and an opportunity to make a contribution to saving our planet.  It has taken time, effort, investment and science to make windows that generate power.  There’s a clear market opportunity in every sense.”

Hamish founded Polysolar before solar power became mainstream, inspired by the transparent technology in the movie Minority Report. His aim was to solve developer needs to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions of buildings without harming the function and form of the building. Polysolar was founded in 2007. However, the financial crisis of 2008 meant that Polysolar pursued its development programme without external investment. This slowed the development process but also bought the company time to develop a commercial product and understand the manufacturing and market requirements. Research and development has been carried out exclusively in the UK.

Polysolar is supported by a Technology Strategy Board and leading materials and glass manufacturing partners.  The firm’s technology has already been praised for its environmental and aesthetic benefits. The company has already won numerous awards and received recognition from the energy and construction community and its products are fully certified and warranted. 

The company is now poised to accelerate sales and manufacturing. Secondary fabrication is undertaken at Dagenham and Stirling in the UK to deliver cost effective solutions to the construction industry and consumers alike. The company already exports around the world and is investing in turnkey architectural solutions for its clients.

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