Physee’s PowerWindow can power small devices while making buildings more efficient.
Solar power is rapidly becoming cheaper and more efficient, and not just for utility companies. Many homeowners and businesses are putting solar panels on their rooftops because it’s cheaper in the long run than buying electricity from the grid. But if you’re a large corporation with a tall office skyscraper, there may not be enough roof space to make a difference.
For a tall skyscraper, the best place to build solar panels is on the walls, but wall-mounted solar panels would be tricky to install and very expensive. Which is why one company is building solar panels into a part of the wall that’s easier to replace: the windows.
At first, installing solar panels on windows might seem ludicrous. After all, the whole point of windows is to let sunlight through them, and there’s no way to also absorb that light for generating electricity. But one company, an EU startup called Physee, found a creative solution.
Their design, called the PowerWindow, places small solar panels on the edges of the window, producing a small amount of power while remaining transparent. These solar panels can produce enough electricity to charge a smartphone multiple times per day.
Of course, this isn’t enough to power an entire building, but it’s an improvement over windows that do nothing. In addition, the PowerWindow comes with sensors that can detect the outside conditions and automatically adjust the building’s systems like lighting or air conditioning. This could potentially save a lot of power, making the window even more effective.
Currently, the PowerWindow has just been installed at the Dutch bank Rabobank, whose building now has over 300 square feet of PowerWindows installed. Multiple other buildings in the Netherlands are on track to receive PowerWindows over the next few years, and soon they may be coming to an office near you.
Images credit: Physee
This article was originally written for and published by Popular Mechanics USA.