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Solar-Powered Windows Are Efficient Enough To Generate 80% Of U.S. Power

By Brian Spaen

Solar generation is being used in a variety of ways to give people options on how they want to power their homes. Instead of big, bulky panels on the roof, there is a more discreet roofing alternative. For example, the ability to install solar-powered glass. Efficiency has been a problem in the latter, but the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has developed a better prototype that is highly adaptable. 

The new window uses enhanced thermochromic technology, which converts sunlight into usable energy at the highest efficiency we’ve seen yet. According to the research, they saw conversion levels reach 11.3 percent. It only took around three minutes from the window to switch over from a transparent state to a darkened color. When it’s dark, molecules are reversibly adsorbed to create electricity.

Efficiency has remained low in glass that can absorb solar energy because most development attempts to put little sacrifice into its transparency. After all, how good is a window if we can’t see anything through it? Many attempts have a static approach, such as Michigan State University creating a glass-like transparent solar material that has five percent efficiency.