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Transparent solar panels part of Pilkington joint venture

The Blade

Jan. 12—Pilkington North America said Monday that it has installed at its R&D facility in Northwood a new window whose panes are made up of transparent solar panels — the result of a joint venture in May 2019 between Pilkington, which is an NSG Group subsidiary, and a California-based solar technology firm, Ubiquitous Energy, Inc.

The window, which is 10 feet tall and faces to the west, was installed in late November and now is generating power that is being stored in a battery. Pilkington has plans to erect a new exterior electric sign at the R&D facility, located at 2401 E. Broadway in Northwood, and have it powered by the solar window.

The window is a test of the new product that Pilkington and Ubiquitous Energy eventually hope to sell to commercial and residential markets. Pilkington and its partner are monitoring technical data from the window, such as wind speed, light exposure, and outside temperature.

Kyle Sword, a manager for business development at Pilkington, said the product is the result of efforts to develop BIPV, an acronym for Building Integrated Photovoltaic technology. The race to develop BIPV solar panel technology that is both transparent and can be used for windows has been ongoing the last five to six years, but such products are still in their infancy and not ready for widespread commercial use.

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Ubiquitous Energy, based in Redwood City, has developed a transparent photovoltaic coating it calls ClearView Power. The coating turns a glass window into solar cells by adding an invisible layer of power generation to the glass and allows it to selectively capture non-visible wavelengths, thereby creating a window that acts like a solar panel. The coating ignores visible wavelengths so that the panel does not obstruct viewing through the window, officials said.

Power is collected then transmitted as electricity to a storage battery capable of powering a variety of products. The solar panel windows also are compatible with traditional solar cells on a rooftop.

Pilkington said that in a larger installation of solar windows, a building's power consumption could potentially be offset significantly.


First Published January 12, 2021, 7:00am


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