I just saw an amazing new photovoltaic product demonstration. NEXT company is selling double pane windows that also harvest solar energy. Currently, I am finding several companies out there selling windows that collect and harvest solar electricity-all of the easy to see through.
The sales demonstration had light passing through a sample of the window. Mind you one can easily see through this window. The window was wired to a little fan. I blocked the light with my hand and watched the fan stop. Impressive!.
The salesman reported the windows cost about 30% more than high quality windows and can pay for themselves within 3 years. In fact-if one counts incentives, the payback can get better.
No welded steel support racks on the roof. No sacrifice of roof area.
The windows have up to a 75% visible light transmission.
Wow! It is great to see innovations like this. The intent of zero net energy buildings without significantly raising building cost is looking more and more realistic.
There is a whole new type of solar panels today called “Building Integrative”. This means that the solar cells are made to be part of the building instead of mounted on top of the roof.
I also have seen translucent solar panels used as shading type roofs for patios and parking spaces. From the moment I pulled into a parking space I was wow’ed by the diffuse and pleasant lighting (on a bright and sun-scorched day).