A great article has recently been published that suggests that buildings may soon become energy self-supplying and do that in a clean carbon-free way to enable net zero energy and carbon operations. The article summarising the already existing examples and knowledge appeared in Interesting Engineering an online portal reporting on innovative solutions developed by engineers.
The technology put into focus is called transparent solar and essentially entails that window glasses and other glass covers on buildings are used to produce electricity using photovoltaic technology. Yes, it sounds contradicting: how could we make use of the energy in the sunlight without actually capturing the light? Well, this is exactly why it is a truly fascinating direction of research and development which already shows that such double functioning glass does actually exist. It is using the UV and infrared wavelengths of sunlight that are not visible to the human eye. Therefore, it does not compromise transparency and even has the added benefit of blocking infrared solar heat from entering the buildings.
Windows made of transparent solar are part of the wider group of 'Building Integrated Photovoltaic' products. These include other PV technologies possible installed on architectural elements, such as bifacial PV panels used as fence or semi-transparent PV glazing used as decorative cover of buildings.
Okay, you may say it is science fiction - well the most interesting part of the article is the reference to existing examples, such as the Copenhagen International School and the Biomedical and Physical Sciences Building on the campus of Michigan State University. These are existing proofs of the technology already working.
So are Net Zero Buildings a reality? Science and technology is making it so. Now it is the turn of developers and building owners to make use of it.
(Image source: Hippopx)