See-thru Solar Panels?

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A neat press release popped into my inbox this week announcing the development of a solar power technology capable of generating electricity on see-thru glass.

It’s called SolarWindow, and it involves spraying clear windows with transparent, electricity-generating coatings. The breakthrough, according to developers New Energy Technologies Inc.,  comes because previously “the collection of electricity was possible only through use of a metal contact, which blocked visibility and limited transparency.” The coatings use the world’s smallest functional solar cells, which measure less than a quarter the size of a grain of rice.


In September, the company unveiled its first prototype, but it was only 4 inches by 4 inches. This week’s prototype is 12″ x 12.” The company hopes its technology could be put to use by the estimated 5 million commercial buildings in America and more than 80 million single detached homes.

(More on See pictures of a solar-powered airplane.)

Meanwhile, a new report by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) and Greenpeace International shows just how quickly solar power is growing. The report predicts that global investments in solar photovoltaic (PV) technology could double to around $100 billion by 2015 and account for 9% of global power demand by 2030. It lays out  how, since 2005, PV prices have dropped some 40% and by 2015 the cost of PV systems is expected to drop by an additional 40% compared to current levels. (You can download the full report here.)

“Solar photovoltaic technology has, for many years now, shown increased power efficiencies and cost reductions,” Ingmar Wilhelm, President of EPIA said in a prepared release.  “Today’s cost predictions, driven by economies of scale in light of global photovoltaic capacity, totalling 40,000 MW in 2010, show that the technology is on the brink of an economic breakthrough.”