Polysolar sees a window of opportunity with new idea

YOUR windows are ideally-placed to generate solar electricity for your home, but it'd be great if you could still enjoy a clear view as well.

YOUR windows are ideally-placed to generate solar electricity for your home, but it'd be great if you could still enjoy a clear view as well.

Photovoltaic glazing is already a reality for those who want to generate power from the sun’s rays, but don’t have the ability or inclination to put conventional panels on their roof.

However, Cambridge’s Polysolar is hoping to take the technology a few steps further, creating a lower-cost and colourless product that mimics a regular window.

The sourcing and development company was set up in early 2007, and offers a range of products, including its silicon-based transparent but tinted photovoltaic glazing. In a bid to fine-tune this next-generation organic photovoltaic technology, it has now set up a research and development office at County Durham’s Printable Electronics Technology Centre.

Polysolar CEO Hamish Watson said: “We’re looking at a replacement for windows which is colourless and transparent. We produce a transparent photovoltaic today in silicon, but this new material would be cheaper and we’d be looking at half the price of conventional photovoltaics.

“The issues are increasing the performance of solar cells when you’re not capturing all the light and you need to increase the performance. You also need to utilise non-visible spectrum light so you can get a consistent colour and let as much light as possible through the window.

“It’s probably about two years before it goes to the commercial market.”

The company has been working on the project for two years, in collaboration with UK glass firm Pilkington and Belgian chemicals company Solvay. Polysolar’s current 100-watt thin-film PV modules have been tested at Sheffield Solar Farm, which indicated it fgave a 25% higher energy yield than conventional crystalline PV.

It was also 50% cheaper per square metre. Polysolar’s current products include PV for pitched and flat roofs, as well as office buildings, schools, shopping malls, bus shelters and hospitals.

Polysolar currently employs six people company-wide, and has placed a member of staff up at PETEC.

Watson said: “PETEC has world-class facilities, such as clean rooms and equipment, and it’s also a centre of expertise on organic polymer deposition.

“We hope to retain our office there. The relationship with PETEC will be progressing until we have an industrial plant up and running and then there’ll be development and adaptation of the process.

“At the moment, we have a member of staff up there. We hope to increase the size of that facility as we progress, but that depends on where the plant is located.”

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