Cool New Solar Idea: Transparent Panels

Regardless of your belief in anthropogenic climate change, you probably are interested in cleaner energy sources. You surely want to save money, and be in charge of your own energy usage. You may have some fundamental issues with solar panels, such as the high cost, the pollution created from their production, the blight on the landscape from solar farms, the killing of insects and birds, and many others. Even leftist environmentalists have problems with solar once it actually comes time to build it. Well, how about a different idea?

(Yahoo) If you’re looking to install new solar panels in your home, why not consider those created by the aptly-named SolarWindow Technologies, which transform regular windows into solar panels that are up to 50 times more efficient than the regular photovoltaics you’d attach to a roof? (snip)

This is where SolarWindow comes into play. As the term “regular windows” suggests, users don’t have to replace the existing windows in their home, but need only treat them with a special process developed by the company.

“We apply liquid coatings to glass and plastic surfaces at ambient pressure, and dry these coatings at low temperature to produce transparent films,” Conklin continued. “We repeat these processes, and then collectively these coatings — and thus the glass and plastic surfaces — generate electricity.”

Of these coatings, the most important is the so-called “Active Layer,” through which electricity is generated by the absorption of light, and the transparent conductors, which allow the electricity to be extracted. “[The] coatings are primarily organic, primarily from carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen,” Conklin said. “We are constantly refining each of the layers to improve on the power we’re able to extract from these coatings and enhance their manufacturability.”

Seems interesting, does it not? They mention putting it on car windows, mirrors, and sunroofs. Of course, one of the problems would be the slight to moderate darkening of windows, decreasing sunlight coming in. But, if it could supply lots of energy at a low cost, decreasing your reliance on the power grid, would it be worth it?

What are your thoughts? The article comments have some big pro and con messages.

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26 Responses to “Cool New Solar Idea: Transparent Panels”

  1. Mike says:

    Sounds like a great idea! At first blush, my concern would be the wiring to link these windows to each other and the grid. Up on my roof, my solar panels are all side by side, whereas my windows are each some distance from each other. New construction, however, could incorporate window wiring inside the walls.

    Other than a skylight, I’m not sure how the window would be more efficient, though, since my roof panels are angled to the sun, whereas my windows are vertical and occluded at times by overhanging eaves (and the house) and three of four walls do not have a southern exposure.

    Still, sounds like the cost could be lower than conventional panels, so I wish them well!

  2. My townhome faces exactly east-west, so I would have 4 windows and a full glass door during the morning, and 4 windows during the afternoon. Heck, if they could capture the heat on my front door in the pm, that’d be great. It’all depends on the cost/benefit.

  3. john says:

    Thank you Teach for spotlighting another success in one of the government’s high risk loan programs. You often point to loans that fail (although overall the USA actually turns a profit on those high risk green loans). https://cleantechnica.com/2011/04/05/government-scientists-put-see-through-solar-windows-on-the-fast-track/
    Those high risk loans to green companies are paid off 97% of the time which is how the government makes a profit on them

  4. drowningpuppies says:

    Many alleged successful programs within the DOE’s loan portfolio are nothing more than blatant corporate welfare.

    A project’s success may also result because of a multitude of policies at the federal, state, and local level to pick winners and losers.

    http://www.heritage.org/research/testimony/examining-the-department-of-energys-loan-portfolio

  5. Dana says:

    The left won’t understand this, but conservatives have absolutely no problems with technology advancing and finding new ways to generate energy.

  6. Jeffery says:

    The left won’t understand this, but conservatives have absolutely no problems with technology advancing and finding new ways to generate energy.

    I would hope we’d all agree on that.

    But conservatives DO circle the wagons to protect subsidizing old ways of generating energy; valuing the already wealthy over the innovator.

  7. Hoagie says:

    I certainly have no problem with technology advancing. In everything from cell phones to cars to computers to energy advances usually mean more efficient uses of resources and lower prices to consumers. What I object to is the narrow minded approach of eliminating entire industries with nothing cost effective to replace them. Or the idea that government should beat up the taxpayer to make millionaires out of people who should be using their own money or private venture money to test their theories. Similarly, it’s not governments job to tax and regulate small start-up companies to death. Government should neither financial support nor destroy private innovation, invention and improvement, just get out of its way an let it flourish. Once reasonable guidelines are established for the safety of the general public, which I believe have been there for decades, governments job is done.

    I also don’t believe the government should be in competition with small, medium, start-up and growing businesses by paying more in money an benefits NOT to work than employers can afford to pay people TO work. The very idea that government should have any say in the wage asked by an employee or offered by an employer is the antithesis of freedom, property rights and freedom of choice. (Although I do realize that in anything other than abortion freedom of choice is not allowed to exist)

    Ronaldus Maximus once stated: “If a business moves, government taxes it. If it keeps moving, it regulates it, And if it stops moving, it subsidizes it.” Very true.

  8. Hoagie says:

    But conservatives DO circle the wagons to protect subsidizing old ways of generating energy; valuing the already wealthy over the innovator.

    See Jeffery, you start to come along on understanding and then go and blow it with a statement like that. Conservatives DO NOT circle the wagons to protect any subsidies for anyone. Not individuals, small business, big business, corporations, charities, churches or foreign aide. We believe the governments job is to let everyone alone, not pick and choose who gets what. That’s where the corruption starts, Jeffery, with all these people and businesses lobbying for subsidies and special regulations an exemptions.

    The one thing leftist fail to grasp is that businesses don’t pay taxes, their customers do. Taxes are figured by business as an expense just like labor, rent, utilities an cost of goods sold and is figured into the pricing equation. Raise the taxes and you raise the prices.

  9. Jeffery says:

    Should the government (e.g., NIH) subsidize basic biological/medical research or should we leave that up to the private sector?

    Do you think it fair for the US government to subsidize university tech research, then have the university license the research (patents) to a corporation who turns that into a $14 billion/year product, then have the corporation whine about their taxes, or worse yet “moving” their entity to a low tax nation?

    Private funders would be unlikely to risk their investment, so without the federal seed money the project would not have gotten off the ground.

    Sounds like another example of gov’t elites redistributing taxpayer monies to the wealthy.

    Look at the trillions of dollars make with the DARPA and NSF’s developed internet. It’s a good thing that government took the initiative by investing in the concept of an internet!

  10. Jeffery says:

    Hoagie,

    You fail to understand the trillions of dollars subsidizing the use of fossil fuels as an energy source. Conservative refuse to acknowledge the concept and cost of negative externalities in market transactions.

    If a corporation discharge their process wastes into a river they pass their costs (and obligations) to those downstream. Is that fair and responsible? Do you as a conservative agree with regulations to stop this? Or is there a better way to correct this unfair advantage?

    Coal-fired power plants discharge their process wastes into the atmosphere. Conservatives deny that these wastes are at all harmful.

  11. john says:

    The one thing that conservatives fail to understand is that Americans want to pay taxes and want to help each other.
    Now when businesses have a pretax profit they can do a number of things with it such as reinvest in their human infrastructure resources. When the tax rate goes up they are more likely to do that rather than pay they money out in taxes. Conservatives always look back to when America was great, somehow forgetting that was when taxes were higher
    Let’s return to the tax rates that made America great !!

  12. Mike says:

    I often state that liberals are irony impaired, but sometimes, they’re just flat out wrong. Take your first statement:

    The one thing that conservatives fail to understand is that Americans want to pay taxes and want to help each other

    .
    You say that as if they were mutually exclusive! One does not have to pay taxes in order to help someone out. Sometimes, paying taxes for a broken government welfare system only mires people into a near endless circle of poverty, despair and dependence. So much for “helping”.

    You also left something out. Most Americans want to pay taxes for essential government services. Period. Most Americans do not want to pay for photos of Robert Mapplethorpe’s bullwhips or a naked Karen Finley covered in chocolate. Likewise, sending millions of dollars to Solyndra, who could not manufacture a solar panel for below the cost that they could sell them, despite government subsidies, is not an essential service. Democrat William Proxmire used to publish his “Golden Fleece” of all the wasteful and nonessential things the taxpayer was paying for. Even candidate Barack Obama gave lip service to this in 2008 when he said he would go through the budget line by line to eliminate waste and fraud. Unfortunately, the only fraud detected here was Obama himself, when his campaign promise expired like most of the rest.

    You long for the good old days when taxes were higher? You first. Don’t take any deductions on this year’s taxes. None. Put your money where your mouth is. Cut the government a check for however much you owe, and then add another zero to the check. Tell them to spend it wherever they see fit. Then come back and tell us we need to raise taxes. We’ll wait.

    Don’t ask us to do what you are not willing to do yourself.

  13. Liam Thomas says:

    The one thing that conservatives fail to understand is that Americans want to pay taxes and want to help each other.

    LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

    Yeah they want to help each other allright. Every Foreigner I talk to talks about how self absorbed and self centered Americans are.

    When I travel overseas nearly EVERYONE hates Americans….

    When I come home after being gone 6-8-10 months its a culture shock for me…..No one wants to help each other…..at all….period.

    You go months before you hear of a feel good samaritan story.

    Mother Teresea wanted to help each other….Americans want to know whats in it for them….

    And paying taxes? There is not a single person I know that wants HIS TAXES to go UP….AT ALL…for any reason.

    But thanks for playing.

  14. Liam Thomas says:

    Ill repeat something I posted a while back. When I bought my home in Costa Rica I had a solar company come in and install 35 solar panels on the roof.

    It took about 7-9 months to finish the job…..They had to order 105 solar panels in order to find 35 that actually worked.

    The collection system had to be rewired countless times in order for that to finally start producing.

    The rated wattage of the panels was 275 watts….we tested them all repeatedly and the most we were getting out of any panel was 188 watts. Sometimes the panels were producing like 55-60 watts.

    It was a nightmare getting this installed and working…..

    Now I say that to say this…….I can just imagine how great these SOLAR WINDOWS will work given that the wiring is gonna have to be run thru the walls….inaccessible and then when it fails I can imagine the entire house being torn apart to get to the wiring to rewire the sumbeach.

    Great idea….awesome idea….I doubt its ready for prime time.

  15. Dana says:

    John wrote:

    The one thing that conservatives fail to understand is that Americans want to pay taxes and want to help each other.

    And that’s why Walter Mondale trounced Ronald Reagan in 1984, after promising to raise taxes, right?

    Who was it who promised “middle class tax cuts?” Well, among those who ran, and won, on such promises were Bill Clinton and Barack Hussein Obama. The 2000 election was one of dueling tax cut promises, from George Bush and Al Gore. The candidate you support says that she will provide “tax relief to working families,” and just increase taxes on the wealthy and those wicked ol’ corporations.

    Many conservatives have proposed a single percentage rate income tax, where everybody pays the same percentage, and individual deductions are eliminated; it wasn’t the right which opposed this, but the left.

  16. Jeffery says:

    Many conservatives have proposed a single percentage rate income tax, where everybody pays the same percentage, and individual deductions are eliminated; it wasn’t the right which opposed this, but the left.

    The left opposes flat taxes for a reason. They drastically cut taxes for the wealthy while raising taxes on the working classes. It pushes the burden for supporting this nation onto the working classes relieving the wealthy. It’s great for the wealthy, but bad for the nation. There is nothing to recommend it.

  17. Mike says:

    “Working classes”? My! How very Marxist of you! There is something to recommend it. (BTW, don’t you ever get tired of being wrong?), it’s called “skin in the game”.
    If a poor person is paying a relatively small sum and some math impaired, scum sucking liberal recommends raising taxes say 10%, as opposed to cutting waste and fraud, the poor person then has a vested interest in how taxpayer monies are spent. And complaining about it.
    Paul never complains when Peter is robbed to pay him.

    BTW, I thought you guys were all about “paying your fair share”? How is paying nothing at all anyone’s “fair share”? Maybe if tax increases hit the poor hardest, then glib, mealy mouthed liberals (but I repeat myself) wouldn’t spend so profligately and be so eager to raise them?
    (I crack myself up!)

  18. Dana says:

    Jeffrey wrote:

    Many conservatives have proposed a single percentage rate income tax, where everybody pays the same percentage, and individual deductions are eliminated; it wasn’t the right which opposed this, but the left.

    The left opposes flat taxes for a reason. They drastically cut taxes for the wealthy while raising taxes on the working classes. It pushes the burden for supporting this nation onto the working classes relieving the wealthy. It’s great for the wealthy, but bad for the nation. There is nothing to recommend it.

    But, but, but you’ve told us that the wealthy don’t pay their ‘fair share’ now, thanks to all of the deductions and loopholes and other stuff. Why wouldn’t you support a plan to have a single percentage tax rate, with no deductions to shelter income?

    Why, it’s almost as though you don’t believe that the wealthy are avoiding the taxes you say they’ve been avoiding.

    A clue for you: everyone’s ‘fair share’ is exactly the same.

  19. Dana says:

    Mr Thomas wrote:

    Now I say that to say this…….I can just imagine how great these SOLAR WINDOWS will work given that the wiring is gonna have to be run thru the walls….inaccessible and then when it fails I can imagine the entire house being torn apart to get to the wiring to rewire the sumbeach.

    When I had to rewire a room in the house I’m renting out, and discovered just how ‘non-standard’ the wall construction was, I built a cable trunk in the baseboards for the wiring. The baseboards now stand proud of the wall by 1½ inches rather than ¾ inch, but everything works, and I can get to the wiring easily.

  20. john says:

    would you like to return to the tax rates of the past ? You know when things were better here in the USA and the wealthy paid at much higher tax rates?

  21. Hoagie says:

    You know when things were better here in the USA and the wealthy paid at much higher tax rates?

    You should be aware of this without being told but the wealthy did not pay at much higher rates. The reason is the wealthy had masses of deductions which are no longer allowed and they also used tax fee investments. That is why when rates were lowered actual taxes collected rose. They no longer need to use tax free bonds and oversea investing to protect their assets. So even though the rates were higher few ever made it near those rates in practice. I’m sure you knew that since America didn’t suddenly go broke when the rates were lowered. You do realize if you confiscated every dime the wealthy have you could only run the country for about one year. Then what?

  22. Mike says:

    John, your comment is patent nonsense. You equate “things were better in the USA” with “higher tax rates”. In the past, I could also buy breakfast cereal whose primary ingredient was sugar. If I said to you, “if you want to return to the greatness of the past, we must increase the sugar content of cereal” it would correlate every bit as much as raising tax rates. We could also go back to smoking on airplanes, riding motorcycles without helmets and Sunday blue laws to “make America better again!”

    You are aware that historically, lowering tax rates resulted in increased tax revenue to the government, right? This is because less punitive taxation encourages more economic activity (which relates to job creation).

    You are aware too, that the rich you demonize and want to penalize, never paid those high tax rates due to their tax lawyers, CPAs and an army of legislators willing to write the deductions (loopholes, if you will) in exchange for campaign contributions?

    Things will get better in the USA when the legislature stops its profligate spending, crony capitalism and the march to socialism.

  23. david7134 says:

    John,
    You are aware that at that same time there was segregation and voting restrictions, maybe that was why things were “better”. It makes as much sense as your assertion. But, I am glad that you realize we are in a depression caused by the shine boy.

  24. Hoagie says:

    John, I believe you are under the leftist impression that taxes are there to bludgeon your rivals and punish the successful. Taxes are there to raise money to run the government, not destroy people you personally don’t like.

  25. Liam Thomas says:

    There is nothing to recommend it.

    So why does the EU have a VAT TAX?

    Taxes that range from 5-25 percent depending on the item and the country.

    Yet your in a nation where everyone is already heavily taxed and yet they pay more taxes…..

    How is this fair to the lower classes?

    Well its because you get rebates depending on your status.

    Same would hold true with any flat tax in the usa….The poor would pay nothing…..The middle class would pay what they pay now and the rich would actually be hit harder because they would be FORCED TO PAY the flat tax with no exceptions.

    Thats how you make a flat tax work. Thats how EU makes the VAT tax work without punishing the lower classes.

  26. Jeffery says:

    Liam,

    Then we agree. The wealthy should pay a higher percentage.

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