Sharp develops see through solar panels

Japanese electronics manufacturer, Sharp, has developed the worlds first see-through solar panel. The solar panel generates energy using modified photovoltaic technology but, due to the unique design, light can partially pass through allowing it to be used as a window.

Sharp has been involved in the solar industry since 1963, their original mass produced technology was used to power buoys and light houses. The company is currently developing its thin film technology that will allow low cost solar technology to be distributed in locations that traditional solar panels are unsuitable.  The see-through solar panel, achieved by cutting tiny slits in thin-film silicon PV cells, can be utilised in a variety of locations

As the see-through technology is in the early stages of development, the volume of energy generated is lower. This is largely as a result of the small cuts made into the thin-film silicon that allows the light to pass through. Sharp currently produce the see-through panels at sizes up to 1.4 x 1.0 meters, and a thickness of just 9.5mm. Each panel weighs 33kg and can produce a maximum output of 95W. Future developments could see the panels produced in a variety of sizes with greater efficiency, this woud be an essential development in the technology if the company wants to see interest from a variety of stakeholders for whom traditional solar panels are not an option.

The glass panels could be widely deployed in city locations where many of the buildings are traditionally covered with coated glass, as the see-through panels block some of the light they double as a light filter performing the same function as the coated glass.

As yet, Sharp have not announced a price for the panels.

Image via Sharp

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Rebecca Boyle