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Will transparent solar panels revolutionise the renewable energy market?

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While the use of solar panels continues to grow, many are put off by their appearance and the possible ‘uglification’ of their property post-installation. That potential obstacle, however, could be about to disappear, but how?

A team of researchers from Michigan State University (MSU) have managed to develop fully transparent solar panels in a breakthrough that they are claiming will heavily influence the future of urban architecture and have a positive effect on the domestic renewable energy market at the same time.

The team have also said that those who live in high density urban areas will benefit most. As these areas have the highest demand for technology and connectivity, the appeal of the new transparent solar panels could have a practical as well as a design benefit when it comes to planning new purpose-built housing developments.

So how are these panels different?

Previous experiments in revolutionising solar panels have yielded products that delivered low efficiency levels and poor material quality, but the see-through properties developed here – supported by a luminescent solar concentrator (TLSC) that can be placed over a window or any other clear surface – allows these specific panels to be used as a direct alternative to a standard glass window.

The TLSC harvests solar energy without affecting light transmittance, using organic molecules that absorb wavelengths of light such as infrared and ultraviolet light that is usually invisible to the human eye.

Transparent solar panels

Can you tell that these are actually solar panels? Image from http://msutoday.msu.edu/

More importantly, at least according to claims coming out of MSU’s College of Architecture, solar harvesting would therefore become a more efficient way of creating energy without incurring a negative impact on architectural design, even when integrated in older buildings.

MSU’s development provides plenty of food for thought with regards to the use of solar panels – do you think this could revoluntionise the renewable energy market? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and here you can view MSU’s video outlining the research and production of the transparent solar panels.

If you require any legal advice concerning renewable energy, get in touch with one of our energy & utilities solicitors today. We have lawyers based in Preston, Lancaster, Kendal, Garstang and Clitheroe and you can call our head Preston office on 01772 258321 or email Katie.Kozlowska@harrison-drury.com.


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