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Engineering Materials
Solar Cells Help Windows Generate Electricity
8/15/2012

A new kind of polymer solar cell that is almost 70 percent transparent to the human eye could give windows the ability to generate electricity by absorbing mostly infrared, not visible, light.   (Source: UCLA)
A new kind of polymer solar cell that is almost 70 percent transparent to the human eye could give windows the ability to generate electricity by absorbing mostly infrared, not visible, light.
(Source: UCLA)

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Ann R. Thryft
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Re: It all comes down to cost..
Ann R. Thryft   12/6/2012 12:19:55 PM
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Good point, kodaiflow. Like many alternative energy technologies, especially those taking advantage of existing semiconductor infrastructure, the big push has been to make the technology a) work efficiently and b) be manufacturable. I wonder how much LCA studies have been done--that would be really interesting to know, although there may also not be enough data yet.

kodaiflow
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Re: It all comes down to cost..
kodaiflow   12/6/2012 12:03:27 PM
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I think the main question is mean life span.  This currently is the largest draw back to PV in it's current form.  If these units can produce power for 30 years at a constant level then they justify the investment.  The average solar panel that people are rushing to put on their roofs will have a life span (90% of peak) of about 10 years. In that time they may only generate 50% of the energy used to fabricate them. 

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Solar-window cells?
Ann R. Thryft   9/4/2012 12:24:11 PM
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Thanks, Jack, for the clarification. I think that's an excellent question for a solar cell or window manufacturer.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Solar-window cells?
Ann R. Thryft   9/4/2012 12:23:04 PM
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Mydesign, your impression is incorrect. The US has been experiencing a major economic downturn for several years, including many people losing their jobs and their homes. Also, per capita average income figures are highly misleading, since a given dollar amount often buys much less here than it does in India. Classic examples are the costs for surgery and prescription drugs. In any case, it's a complex picture, especially when making comparisons.

Mydesign
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Re: Solar-window cells?
Mydesign   9/4/2012 1:14:28 AM
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Ann, thatís surprising for me. I though all US citizens are financially well settled peoples. As far as my knowledge, the per capital income of US citizens are more than 10 times of Indian citizens. Through my previous post, I mentioned about the government initiatives for promoting solar energy.

Jack Rupert, PE
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Re: Solar-window cells?
Jack Rupert, PE   8/31/2012 11:30:25 AM
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Yes, Ann, that's what I was wondering.  I don't know the proper percentages, but say an average high effieciency window block 65% of a certain type of energy (heat, uv, whatever).  If the solar cells take out 25% by themselves, that might mean that the cost of the base window could be reduced by eliminating an amount of the doping, and thereby helping to offset some of the cost of the solar cells.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Solar-window cells?
Ann R. Thryft   8/27/2012 12:00:55 PM
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Jack, can you clarify your question: do you mean eliminating the doping chemicals that are usually used to increase efficiency and replacing them with this film?

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Solar-window cells?
Ann R. Thryft   8/24/2012 12:29:24 PM
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Mydesign, that does resemble some US programs. However, because the cost of installing solar can be around $20,000 (depending on several variables), an often-quoted figure, "only" 40% would be $8,000. Not many people have that amount available for this purpose, even in installments.

Jack Rupert, PE
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Re: Solar-window cells?
Jack Rupert, PE   8/24/2012 9:58:50 AM
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Ann, do you know how that compares with your standard high-efficiency home or office window?  Just thinking that if this has similar optical properties, there might be a savings in the base cost of the glass that would normally by used (by reducing the amount of "doping chemicals" which would help in the implementation of soemthing like this.

Mydesign
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Re: Solar-window cells?
Mydesign   8/24/2012 1:13:30 AM
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Ann, in the scheme which I mentioned, the upfront cost is only 40% of the total cost and the rest is a subsidy from government, which goes directly to the service providerís account. So customer has to pay only 40% of total cost, that too in interest free installments (2-6 EMI based on various schemes from different companies).

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