Pat Pilcher: Solar glass turns buildings into power generators

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Every once in a while an idea comes along that just so simple yet brilliant that it makes a boatload of common sense.

Take this gem of an idea for instance. A UK company called Oxford Photovoltaics, (a commercial offshoot from the Oxford University), has come up with a glass solar panel that can generate electricity from sun light while doing double duty as a window.

The panels are made up of semi-transparent glass that can be had in a multitude of different colours which should hopefully add to its appeal for architects.

The technology works by a adding a 3 micron deep layer of pigmented, photo voltaic materials to the glass. The really clever bit is the fact that buildings can be constructed incorporating solar power generation capabilities for as little extra as 10% above the cost of using bog standard glass.

With high-rise office buildings coated in glass, the future of photovoltaic glass looks tantalising. Taken to its logical extreme, should photovoltaic glass become a building requirement for new hi-rise buildings, there's little to no reason why CBDs couldn't consume significantly less electricity or even move from being net consumers of electricity into generating small surpluses.

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