Yesterday we mentioned recent predictions that solar power will be as cheap as coal by 2013; today, though, the word is that it will also be a helluva lot easier to generate too.
MIT scientists Vladimir Bulović and Richard Lunt have published a paper outlining a system of transparent photovoltaic cells which could be coated on to normal glass.
The result: a window that generates electricity while sunlight streams through it.
The new system contributes to reduced costs, too, because it takes away many of the most expensive aspects of building solar cells. Existing cells have to be specially manufactured with supporting structures, purpose-built glass panes, and so on. Bulović and Lunt’s alternative does away with pretty much all of that.
This system won’t be enough to solve the energy crisis on its own. But it will, say its inventors, make a helpful contribution to our future energy needs as part of a wider package of alternative sources.
The research is still at an early stage, and a commercial product is still 10 years away. But one day you might be able to buy a transparent material you can simply drape over your existing windows and plug in.