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Clear Solar Panels Double As Projection Screens

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the multipass dept.

Technology 304

EnergyEfficient writes "Metropolis Magazine has an article about a company that is producing transparent solar panels. The panels 'can generate 3.8 watts of electricity per square foot, an above-average level of efficiency.' They come in a thick version that can be used for glazing buildings. Imagine if all those glass skyscrapers could also produce power! As an interesting aside, they can also be used as screens for projection TV units."

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Wonder if they are more efficient... (3, Insightful)

DannyiMac (216056) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911140)

Wonder if they are more efficient than the solar panels mentioned in a previous /. story?

Re:Wonder if they are more efficient... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9911432)

first post! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9911144)

go AC's

Cool! (3, Insightful)

Zorilla (791636) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911148)

It's nice to see that projection technology will be getting cheaper, what with the integrated solar panels and all. Wait, how much do the super-efficient panels cost? Oops...

Re:Cool! (3, Insightful)

UberDork (235964) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911172)

If you are getting the building cladding as well as the PV units in the one unit, the cost equation looks even better. I don't know what normal 13mm glass might cost, but figure it is fairly expensive in itself. The TCO of these things might not be that bad after all?

Re:Cool! (5, Informative)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911275)

" Wait, how much do the super-efficient panels cost? Oops..."

A.) Prices will go down if these things take off.

B.) Think of how much cheaper the electric bill will be. (Also consider how much more regular it has the potential to be.)

C.) Imagine if an ill-timed power outage wouldn't necessarily mean the building was affected.

I imagine once somebody sits down with a calculator and thinks out 5 to 10 years, the cost will end up being quite competitive AND they get bonus features to boot.

Just because something starts out at a high price doesn't always mean the value's not there, or that the price will always stay that way. The main reason I'm replying is not so much because of your particular comment, but because I've seen a great deal of sticker-shock on Slashdot without understanding some of these basic things about how technology economics works.

One size fits all... (-1, Offtopic)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911151)

Does it make coffee?

Use power to run projectors to generate power to.. (0)

dtperik (695891) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911153)

Wow, finally, perpetual energy ;-)

Re:Use power to run projectors to generate power t (1)

DannyiMac (216056) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911161)

Yup, something like this is just bound to tear the laws of themodynamics a new one!

Brainstorm (4, Funny)

DoraLives (622001) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911157)

"I know, we'll make a solar panel that lets the light just go right through it! What a great idea!

No Dumbass (5, Funny)

pHatidic (163975) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911212)

The point is that you can use it with projector TVs. The light from the projector creates the power to run the projector, duh! I'm running over to walmart to buy one for my for my fan powered sailboat right now.

Whats the point (1, Insightful)

PROTEIN_MAN (803666) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911158)

Most glass is mounted vertically so it will only be good in the mornings/afternoons.....

Re:Whats the point (4, Funny)

isorox (205688) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911196)

Most glass is mounted vertically so it will only be good in the mornings/afternoons.....

Unlike horizontally mounted stuff which is good at night?

Re:Whats the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9911208)

Can also be used on skylights. They get a lot of sun. Won't be much good as a TV though.

Re:Whats the point (5, Insightful)

AlexMidn1ght (705563) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911217)

This is great since mornings and afternoons are the usual peak periods for electricity demand.

Re:Whats the point (4, Insightful)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911261)

Most glass is mounted vertically so it will only be good in the mornings/afternoons.....

Still much better than regular glass that doesn't produce any power.

Re:Whats the point (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911285)

"Most glass is mounted vertically so it will only be good in the mornings/afternoons....."

Who's to say they wouldn't mount it at an angle to get more benefit from this technology? Could be aesthetically pleasing as well. Get the right guy working on the blueprint and all should be well.

Yeah Except (4, Insightful)

deathcow (455995) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911368)

In many latitudes the Sun never comes anywhere close to being overhead. I've been in Alaska 28 yrs and never seen the Sun, Moon, or any planets even close to overhead. The highest they ever get is about 60 degrees above the horizon or so.

Does it play d00m? (3, Funny)

gtoomey (528943) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911160)

This amorphous silicon technology has a three-in-one functionality: it is able to act as a glazing element, solar panel, and video display screen.
Those Japanese think of everything - a video screen that generates it own power & keeps the rain out!

How much does it cost (4, Insightful)

DaveInAustin (549058) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911162)

And how much energy does it take to produce a single square foot. There is a basic falicy that a lot of folks seem to miss. Like the fact that you burn more oil to create an equivianent amount of ethanol from corn. There is a study [cornell.edu] at cornell that shows this. The same thing holds for all current forms of solar energy. While it will no double have niche applications, it's not going to release the world from dependence on oil, even if we could plater all the skyscrapers of the world with it.

Re:How much does it cost (1)

DannyiMac (216056) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911174)

If it's cheaper it will... then the oil/coal companies would probably try to prevent it.

Re:How much does it cost (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911201)

The reason it isn't cheaper is because of the energy it requires to produce it.

Get it?

Lunch remains an expense.

KFG

Re:How much does it cost (1)

bn557 (183935) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911420)

Lunch remains an expense.

Is that a `there's no such thing as a free lunch` reference or just an accidental bullseye?

P

Re:How much does it cost (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911425)

Is that a `there's no such thing as a free lunch` reference

Yes.

KFG

Re:How much does it cost (1)

Siergen (607001) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911230)

No reason to try to prevent it. Ramping a new energy technology up to mass production would take a lot of capital investment for factories, etc. The existing energy companies can just invest in promising alternates. If it fails, they can write it off as a loss on their taxes; if it succeeds, then they get in on the ground floor of the new industry.

Even if you assume that oil execs are evil, they know more about remaining untapped reserves than you you or me. You can be sure that they are looking for the "next big thing" to invest in for continued profits when their wells run low, and not as an enemy to spend money killing.

Re:How much does it cost (4, Insightful)

moonbender (547943) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911199)

And how much energy does it take to produce a single square foot.

Actually, the question should probably be: How much energy does it take to produce a square foot compared to a square foot of glass? But the question probably isn't even relevant, I'm sure the price will be prohibitive anyway, at least for mass adoption. In general, you're right, of course: this "ecological backpack" is an important issue the public really isn't aware of.

Re:How much does it cost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9911247)

Well the article mentions a proposed price of $45 per square foot. But yeah, the real question should be how much resources are spent to produce and install these vs how much energy they'll produce over their lifetime. Unfortunately, most cultures are completely money-driven and ignore the resource equation.

Re:How much does it cost (5, Interesting)

Jahf (21968) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911288)

The evaluation requires multiple points before you can determine worth:

1) How much does it cost to produce a square foot of this solar panel?

2) Same question as #1 for the glass that would be used normally?

3) How much energy will this solar panel -leak- over the expected life span of the installation?

4) Same as #3 for regular glass?

5) What is the energy gained by the solar collection process?

6) After all factors considered, is the cost of the solar panel compared to regular glass over the lifespan of both higher (bad) or lower (good)?

Illustration (all assumptions):

* Assume the installation has an expected life span of 10 years (I would hope the lifespan of skyscraper glass would be more like 40-50 years or more, but that is a pain to calculate).

* Assume that the glass installation costs $1,000 (we're talking a big piece of skyscraper glass here, ok?)

* Assume solar panel costs 10x the normal glass installation, $10,000

* Assume that each year the regular glass will cost 1/2 again the initial cost in energy loss (probably a pretty drastic assumption but it makes things easy) ... $500/year

* Assume that each year the solar glass will net 1/2 again the initial cost of -regular- glass each year (another drastic assumption) ... $500/year ... that net meaning that it paid for the energy lost through it and had dividend above that mark (ok, so extremely drastic)

Factored together, after 10 years the regular glass net cost was $6,000 whereas the solar glass net cost was $5,000 (and also helped subsidize the cost, making future installations less costly).

Of course, being assumptions you could easily make an example where the reverse was true and the solar glass was more expensive over 10 years (again, hoping that 10 years is a small chunk of the real installation).

My point is pretty small for all of the above ... that ecological costing is actually fairly complex and is why the public often doesn't "get it". Maybe we need to go to the utility model for things such as this as well. That is only partial sarcasm, BTW, it could actually make a lot of sense to figure out a model whereby such things could be scaled out over time so that the initial aquisition was not prohibitive.

Re:How much does it cost (3, Insightful)

silentbozo (542534) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911351)

Don't forget to put in discount factors for future costs of electricity, growing demands on the local grid from other development, and utility of having an independent power source in the event of generation plant or transmission line failure.

Re:How much does it cost (4, Insightful)

irokitt (663593) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911233)

But there is something. If solar panels could have a lifetime of about 20-30 years of use (right now you'd be lucky to get the things to last 5 years without breaking), then that momentary expenditure of oil will more than pay for itself. It would be better to spend that oil on making efficient solar panels than to burn it in an SUV. No, we're not there yet and we're probably a good decade off, but the only way to improve this is to keep refining the fabrication process.

Solar is attractive because it isn't seasonal (unlike hydroelectric, which is only available during a portion of the year and is usually unavailable during the time we need it most, summer). Solar is unsightly and takes up a lot of real estate, which makes local environmental lobbyists pissed, but where I live (Southern California), it makes sense because we have a perfectly good desert nearby and placing a solar panel farm out there is simple Trying to place one in downtown Chicago is made easier by the panels in this story, since they could be incorporated into most buildings that have a modern, glass-heavy look. But the problem there is that Chicago and many other urban cities don't get nearly enough sunlight to make a panel farm efficient, just like most most areas don't get enough wind to make a propellor farm efficient. Better panels may come along, but there will always be cities that have to rely on other forms of power (nuclear comes to mind, and maybe someday we'll get fission to work-bring on the Duke Nukem Forever jokes).

As for corn ethanol, not only is it wasteful of energy, it's typically more expensive than your average gallon of gas here in the United States. Have to agree with you there.

The trick is that you have to look at solar from a few angles. It isn't a cure all for our energy problems, but it has more than just a few 'niche' applications and it could help make a serious contribution once the technology has matured.

Wow, did I really write all of that?

Re:How much does it cost (1)

koreth (409849) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911309)

Solar is attractive because it isn't seasonal

Hmm, I don't think they'll buy that argument in northern Europe or Alaska. (But I agree with the point for most of the world's highly populated areas.)

Re:How much does it cost (4, Informative)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911374)

If solar panels could have a lifetime of about 20-30 years of use (right now you'd
be lucky to get the things to last 5 years without breaking), then that momentary expenditure of oil will more than pay for itself.


Um, solar panels do in fact last that 20-30 years. [solarbuzz.com]

Re:How much does it cost (2, Informative)

irokitt (663593) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911395)

Alright dude, but at the farms out here about 5 years is a good number, since these things are typically made of glass and, *surprise*, glass breaks. Last time I drove by a farm (about 5 weeks ago) about a third of the panels were broken-either from punks throwing rocks or just whatever. Just fragile, and that can be a pretty bad thing in the desert.

Re:How much does it cost (2, Insightful)

putaro (235078) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911412)

Yah, but this stuff would be attached to buildings in a city mostly. I think the windows on the average skyscraper last more than 5 years without somebody throwing a rock through them (or even a jet plane)

Re:How much does it cost (4, Interesting)

Jardine (398197) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911399)

Solar is attractive because it isn't seasonal (unlike hydroelectric, which is only available during a portion of the year and is usually unavailable during the time we need it most, summer)

Kind of the opposite here in Ontario. The length of time the sun is out changes a lot. On June 20th of this year, the sun rose at 5:45am and set at 9:07pm (at my location of course). On December 20th of this year, the sun will rise at 7:52am and set at 4:52pm. The further north you go, the more drastic the changes.

Solar power should work out reasonably well even with those changes in daylight hours because peak electric use is during the summer where the most power is used.

Why is hydroelectric generation seasonal? It's my understanding that most of our hydro is generated using dams. Some is generated on rivers such as the Niagara River. Do your rivers dry up in the summer or something?

Re:How much does it cost (2, Insightful)

McCrapDeluxe (626840) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911433)

maybe someday we'll get fission

Yes, in the far-off future world of the 1960s, we and our descentants will live on a world powered by the mysterious atom! You can ride an atomic-powered sidewalk to the nuclear air-depot, catching a 5-minute ride to Bangladesh on the world-wide nuclear shuttle. Energy will be cheap and reliable in this spectacular future, brought to you by the scientists at General Atomics!

Re:How much does it cost (3, Insightful)

GileadGreene (539584) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911262)

The fallacy that you refer to doesn't apply to solar panels in quite the same way as it does to ethanol. The question needs to be something more like "what is the ratio of (power produced per sq ft)*(lifetime of a sq ft)/(energy required to create square foot)?" So long as that ratio is greater than 1 there will be a net gain in energy.

Re:How much does it cost (1)

mc6809e (214243) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911278)

And how much energy does it take to produce a single square foot. There is a basic falicy that a lot of folks seem to miss.

This is a good point.

At the same time, though, solar cells last up to about 30 years. So in a way, a solar cell is like a 30 year battery. There may be situations in which bying cheap energy now and "storing" it in a solar cell for 30 years might by less expensive in the long run. They would in effect grabbing more cheap energy early while others have to buy more expensive energy later.

Of course, it probably would mean a net loss of energy as you suggest. So globally, more energy gets wasted with solar cells.

Interestingly, people that don't buy solar cells now save energy for the future, while people that buy them now act in their self-interest, but waste energy overall.

Re:How much does it cost (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911293)

"While it will no double have niche applications, it's not going to release the world from dependence on oil..."

Yet. Technology only gets better. Say a minor tweak to the process makes a solar panel last twice as long. That's half the resources to make one panel, right?

It's not so much that it's a falicy, it's that the game isn't over yet.

Re:How much does it cost (2, Interesting)

Cecil (37810) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911339)

The same thing holds for all current forms of solar energy.

Not true. Both hydroelectric and wind are basically solar-powered. And neither of those have much in the way of a set lifetime, nor do they take large amounts of energy to develop.

There are also solar powerplants that use large arrays of mirrors to boil water into steam and run turbines. Again, I don't see these having any specific lifetime so there isn't any cost of recreation, just maintenance (which should be small)

As far as I know, it's basically only photovoltaic cells that are a net-loss of energy. And even that could be fixed by increasing efficiency in the production process or increasing the lifespan of the panels.

Re:How much does it cost (4, Informative)

bear_phillips (165929) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911353)

Either you are misinformed or you just like to spread FUD. According to the Department of Energy [energy.gov] Studies have shown that, depending on the type of PV technology, the clean energy payback of a PV system ranges from one to four years.

As for ethanol, I will raise you Cornell study with this one from the USDA [usda.gov] which seems to say that ethanol is energy positive.

Re:How much does it cost (3, Interesting)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911354)

Congratulations, you've discovered the second law of thermodynamics!


You know what will release the world from dependence on oil? The oil running out. The only question is, will the replacement energy technology be ready by then, or will we be caught unprepared and reduced to Mad Max style barbarism for a few centuries?

Re:How much does it cost (2, Informative)

putaro (235078) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911396)

Good point - however, most countries do not produce all of their energy with fossil fuels. Japan's electricity production is about 30% nuclear (the U.S. is running about 20%). Also, with something like this, you have to look at the marginal energy budget. Many buildings are already faced with glass which is an energy intensive material to make. The additional energy input needed to make these generate power is what needs to be compared against their output, not the total power to make the panels.

corn versus oil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9911421)

figures never lie but liars sure can figure

it's easy to see how the facts have been twisted in that study. nevermind that growing corn takes co2 out of the air as it grows

why not whine about how much more expensive it it to transmute lead -> gold in a nuclear reactor than dig gold out of the ground...

In 59 years it will pay for itself. (3, Informative)

purves (800872) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911423)

I think the question most businesses ask is how long will it take to get a return on investment.

The manufacturer specifies 38 W/m^2 or about 3.5 W/ft^2. Used as a window, the orientation would be fixed and I think you would be lucky to get four hours of good light to get something close to full efficiency.

So 3.5*4 = 14 Wh per day.

If electricity is 15 cents/kWh, you could buy 300 kWh for $45 (the cost per square foot of window).

To produce 300 kWh from a square foot of window would take 300 000/14 = 21 428 days or roughly 59 years.

Of course that doesn't take into account connecting your windows into the buildings power and the loss of effieciency there. And I also didn't take into account what the cost of regular windows are to begin with, since that should be reduced from the price, but I would guess they would be a few dollars and might take 10 years off the total.

Once electricy prices increase to $1.50/kWh these babies should be selling like hotcakes.

purves

How would that work? (1)

Fizz753 (773692) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911166)

Wait I am confused. So you can use them for windows AND screens for projection TV's? Don't most people pull the curtains to dim the room so they can see the screen better?

Re:How would that work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9911188)

Why would you want to run windows on this technology?!?!?!?!

Re:How would that work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9911198)

I suppose the idea is that it's when you didn't pull the curtains closed it would generate electricity.

Re:How would that work? (1)

tacarat (696339) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911244)

You only really shut the curtains when the outside light is a lot brighter than the monitor and starts causing glare. As long as the light coming through is brighter than the light reflecting off the viewing surface, the image should be fine. Try look through a window of a house (your house, preferably) on a full moon night; once with the interior lights off, and once with them on. Same idea.

Re:How would that work? (1)

tacarat (696339) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911311)

Reverse that. No coffee yet. In the case of a projection, the image pretty much is the prior example's glare. Night-time shows, perhaps?

Useful Excerpts (1)

Tablespork (564764) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911173)

(Right now, the technology is priced at $45 per square foot.)

As an external glaze, PV-TV allows up to 10% visible light to be transmitted through the panel.

Since the PV-TV screens don't have the luminosity of liquid crystalline or a digital TV screen, they perform best when there are no other competing light sources[...]

Hmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9911180)

I can just imagine the problems already...

"Honey," says the wife," when are you going to stop watching movies and do something productive?"

"I am being productive, though!," replies the husband with the back-projection screen TV made from this technology.

It would be a nice way to cut down power costs for these kinds of TV, even if they aren't that great to begin with.

Also, one could have these solar panels put on their house in a nice way to cut down on power consumption a little (or a lot if they efficient enough. I'm not expert on solar panels.).

Is it cost effective? (1)

glinden (56181) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911183)

From the article: "One stumbling block is how difficult it is to quantify the product's value versus its price. (Right now, the technology is priced at $45 per square foot.)"

Not really... (1)

Jack_Frost (28997) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911256)

My electricity runs about $0.08 per kilowatt-hour. A 1 square foot panel would produce 3.8 Watts X 8 hours (assuming 8 good hours of sunlight) or ~ .03 kW-hr at a cost of $45, which works out to $1500 per kilowatt hour. Cheap for solar, owing to the higher efficiency of the panels, but dismal by commercial generation.

Re:Not really... (2, Informative)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911305)

A 1 square foot panel would produce 3.8 Watts X 8 hours (assuming 8 good hours of sunlight) or ~ .03 kW-hr at a cost of $45, which works out to $1500 per kilowatt hour.

That's only if you used it one day and then threw it away. You need to divide by the number of days in use; if it lasted 10 years, that would come out to $1500/3650 = $.27/kwh. Of course, power inverters and storage would probably significantly increase the total cost above that.

Yeah I should have put that in there... (1)

Jack_Frost (28997) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911343)

The payoff time is very long... after a couple of decades you'll be beating the power company, but there's a hell of a lot better way to invest your money :-)

Re:Not really... (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911350)

.27 is still about 3.8 times what I pay per KW/H right now.

Re:Not really... (1)

devilspgd (652955) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911330)

Maybe I'm missing something obvious, but that's only $1500 kW/h on the first day.

Assuming it lasts more then a day, wouldn't the effective $ per kW/h price drop over time?

Re:Not really... (1)

Zzootnik (179922) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911338)

Doesn't that only apply if you then take the panels down after the first day?

These things get cheaper the longer you use them, so it'll be .03kw-hr per day...Want your kw-hr to be $5.00? Use your panels for...umm....okay- its probably a long time, but you get the idea- do the math.

Re:Not really... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9911340)

.03 kW-hr at a cost of $45, which works out to $1500 per kilowatt hour.

Wait, but that's only considering the first hour.

Re:Is it cost effective? (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911328)

"From the article: "One stumbling block is how difficult it is to quantify the products value versus its price. (Right now, the technology is priced at $45 per square foot.)"

I think the point was that there are other benefits to this type of power. If, for example, these panels charged a battery that a house or building ran on, then you'd have a form of UPS in the event of a power failure. How much is that worth? Etc.

How good of a projection surface is this? (1)

ramk13 (570633) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911185)

I wonder how great of a project surface this really is. They say it can be projected on from either the inside or outside, meaning that the surface is really reflective. But they say in the article:

"Since the PV-TV screens don't have the luminosity of liquid crystalline or a digital TV screen, they perform best when there are no other competing light sources, according to MSK spokeswoman Aya Tanida."

That means you can only use it in the dark? i.e. nighttime?

Also if it's really reflective, isn't that going to cut down on the electricity production? I'm sure they have thought about all this, but it's hard to tell from the article. Maybe they have a reflective surface in the middle, the solar collection just outside of that, and supporting material sandwiching that.

It seems pretty neat, but I wonder if they could increase the solar efficiency if they dropped this nighttime only projection feature.

Re:How good of a projection surface is this? (1)

I7D (682601) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911228)

"They say it can be projected on from either the inside or outside, meaning that the surface is really reflective."

A reflective surface is terrble for projecting on.

Ideally, you want a nice matte surface. Frosted glass works well, as does brick walls.
Imagine projecting on a bathroom mirror, it just wouldn't work.

Rick James, Dead At 56 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9911187)

I just read the news in the Springfield Shopper- legendary funkster and superfreak Rick James was found dead in his L.A. apartment at the age of 56. Even if you have a below average libido and didn't like his music there's no denying his contribution to popular culture. Truly an American icon.

Re:Rick James, Dead At 56 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9911372)

I'm.. dead, bitch :(

LCD power requirements vs. Solar panel output (1)

tacarat (696339) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911206)

The 3.8 watt output from a single panel wouldn't be sufficient for the lcd to power itself, would it? If not, how many panels would actually be needed? The idea is great, though. Reduce incoming/outgoing light, produce energy to further help offset the cooling or heating costs and (if you can link them) the world's biggest monitor. It's too bad they didn't post any specs of the resolution/refresh rate. Put D3 (or a good pr0n feed) on that, and you might have the only reason for hardcore gamers to step out into natural sunlight.

Re:LCD power requirements vs. Solar panel output (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9911260)

The 3.8 watt output from a single panel wouldn't be sufficient for the lcd to power itself, would it?

Good point. Except. There's no fucking LCD. You can use it as a screen for a projection tv.

Re:LCD power requirements vs. Solar panel output (1)

tacarat (696339) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911301)

That's what I get for posting before getting any coffee in my viens...

Re:LCD power requirements vs. Solar panel output (1)

Mattsson (105422) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911344)

It's not a monitor, that's why their website doesn't have any resolution/refresh rate specs.
It works as a surface on which you can project an image with a projector.
And you'd like to be a bit cautious about what kind of content you project there, since the picture will be visible on the other side of the panel. ^_^

Fantastic (5, Interesting)

bigberk (547360) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911213)

There are lots of interesting things that could be done to produce more ecologically friendly buildings.

The first is simply to make more efficient use of natural light! I stayed for a week in a new residence building at The University of East Anglia [uea.ac.uk] (Norwich, UK) and the building really intrigued me. It had hollow lighting columns running up to the top of the building, despite being a rather tall apartment. So there was natural light from the top reaching all floors. That definitely saves lighting costs.

So with approaches like that (using natural light as much as you can) coupled with clear solar panels, you could both use natural lighting and collect power for electrical lighting later on. Improve actual lighting with high-efficiency (85% +) white LEDs (last forever) or high efficiency fluorescents, and you've got one amazing power-efficient building.

The problem is that these supplies -- solar panels, white LEDs have large initial costs. As these costs come down we'll see lots of nice new interiors. I can only expect such things to become more common as people actually realized they're screwed for cheap power.

Re:Fantastic (3, Funny)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911300)

"The first is simply to make more efficient use of natural light!"

Heh. Where I work, our computer screens light the room.

white LEDs are not 85% efficient (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9911304)

I don't know where you got that idea.

White LEDs are less efficient than fluorescent lights.

Colored LEDs are quite efficient.

Re:Fantastic (4, Interesting)

s.fontinalis (580601) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911325)

Like transparent concrete? http://optics.org/articles/news/10/3/10/1 [optics.org]

Re:Fantastic (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911383)

Nah ... I'm holding out for Transparent Aluminum.

Side of building as projection / computer screen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9911214)

Great! Just mount these panels all over the Sears Tower, and I can play Tetris!

Re:Side of building as projection / computer scree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9911236)

It's been done [mit.edu] , well kinda ... in that MIT hack, they rigged up the lights on the building's floors to act as a VU meter and provide assorted other visuals. The scary part I suppose is how easy it was to remotely control a major office complex's lighting system. And that was before IPv6...

Nothing great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9911225)

Solar illumination is ~1 kw / square meter.
3.8 watts / sqr ft is *not* a great efficiency.

Also, solar cells are just big diodes (in this case, with an area of several square feet).
What happens if a pebble, bird, or bird droppings hit it? Will the diode short? How often can one clean the window without degrading ythe cell?

How much power would that be? And at what cost? (4, Informative)

Jack_Frost (28997) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911227)

Let's take a super-skyscraper, assuming a 200' square base that's as high as the Sears tower (roughly 1450' to the roof top). Assuming the building maintains its rectangular cross section from the ground to the top gives us an area of 1.16 million square feet which would generate ~4.4 megwatts of electricity, which is a lot of electricity.

The article calls out a price of $45 per square foot, making the solar panels for such a building cost about $52 million dollars. Surprisingly cheap for that much electrical capacity, though the usage factor would be pretty low, what with it being dark at night and all.

Replying to my own post... tsk tsk... (2, Informative)

Jack_Frost (28997) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911269)

For comparison purposes a typical power plant will produce on the order of 1000 Megawatts (some are more, some are less but that's a good ballpark). Such a solar panel clad building would produce a fair amount of electricity for a solar application, but it's still a miniscule amount compared to the power demands of even a small city.

Ummm... (4, Informative)

Linguica (144978) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911229)

"producing transparent solar panels."

"As an external glaze, PV-TV allows up to 10% visible light to be transmitted through the panel."

transparent Audio pronunciation of "transparent" ( P ) Pronunciation Key (trns-pârnt, -pr-)
adj.

1. Capable of transmitting light so that objects or images can be seen as if there were no intervening material. See Synonyms at clear.

Re:Ummm... (1)

per11 (650595) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911287)

Mod parent up. It seems like this material is not transparent, but a 90% translucent.

Re:Ummm... (3, Informative)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911403)

Consider the window film that reduces the amount of light passing through a window, but allows for a clear image through the glass. That is "transparent", even though it is not passing all the light.

"Translucent" means that while some qunatity of light is allowed to pass, no meaningful image passes.

So it is possible to be both transparent and yet block some of the light - and for an example look no furthur than your sunglasses.

Cover a building in it? (0, Redundant)

phantasma6 (799340) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911246)

Assuming the average skyscraper is approximately 600ft tall (they need to be at least 500ft) and 175ft wide (a wild guess), to cover a building in this 'glass' would cost 175*600*4*45 = $18900000

Is $19 million worth of glass really what you would want to get?

Re:Cover a building in it? (3, Insightful)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911320)

"Is $19 million worth of glass really what you would want to get?"

Depends, you have to ask more questions:

1.) How much does the ordinary glass cost?

2.) How much electricity is generated? How much would this reduce the yearly bill?

3.) How much would/could electric prices rise?

4.) How long do these panels last?

5.) What other benefits are you buying? (I.e. is there resistance to power failures? Those in Cali during the rolling blackouts would appreciate that....)

6.) How does this compare to the cost of the rest of the building?

7.) Is running on solar power going to be attractive to tenants?

Re:Cover a building in it? (5, Interesting)

PabloJones (456560) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911324)

$19 million, plus the cost of the mountings, and whatever system they use to wire together the glass and harvest the electricity.

On an unrelated note, the Aon Center (formerly the Amoco/Standard Oil Bldg) in Chicago was originally clad in white marble. Years later, the climate softened the marble and bits of it began to fall off. So they re-clad the entire building with granite in the '90s, which ended up costing them more than the original price of the building. At least the electricity-producing glass could alleviate the utility costs of the building, but who knows how long it would take until the glass ended up paying for itself.

However, if it turned out that the glass turned out to be inferior to normal glass (visibility, thermal properties, etc), then the owners would have to go through the costly process of replacing it with regular glass.

...can generate 3.8 watts of electricity... (3, Funny)

Chordonblue (585047) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911253)

Gee, imagine what they could do with OPAQUE ones!

3.8 watts per square foot with what? (2, Interesting)

mark-t (151149) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911265)

Directly overhead, bright sunlight?

Bright sunlight, regardless of angle?

Diffused light on a cloudy day?

In outer space, facing the sun?

They say absolutely nothing about the preconditions that are necessary to produce that 3.8 watts... and it's simply not possible for it to produce the same output regardless of its environment.

Re:3.8 watts per square foot with what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9911315)

What are you saying? It won't work at night?

Thank you captain obvious!

What's next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9911273)

A solar powered flashlight?

Um.... (3, Insightful)

RobL3 (126711) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911279)

Has anybody considered that most skyscrapers are surrounded by -other- skyscrapers? Kind of cuts down on the whole direct sunlight thing......

Re:Um.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9911419)

You don't have to coat the entire builting in the solar panels. You coul put the panels on say the top quarter of the building and have them work fine, probably you would only want to put it on the East and West sides of the builting aswell seeing as how the sun rarely come from the north or south.

What about on a smaller scale? (1)

Aadomm (609333) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911289)

Will I be able to power my mp3 player rom my sunglasses?

Above-average efficiency?! Not! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9911292)

My 110W panels are 4.3'x2.2' for 9.5 ft^2, that's around 11W/ft^2.

Maybe for amorphous it's high-efficiency, but compared to other technologies that's pretty low.

(Please check my math, I've been up for 2 days, and I'm old.)

3.8 watts per square foot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9911297)

thats about 34 watts per square meter and the solar spectrum is about 1000 watts per sqaure meter on the surface of the earth (AM1.5g spectrum) so thats about 3.4% efficient cells ... doesnt quite seem worth the effort of producing them to me. Since the amount of energy (ie fossil fuels) that goes into making more efficient silicon solar cells (or gallium arsenide for that matter) would take about 5 years to get back from the devices, it sounds like these things, at such a low efficiency, would actually increase our dependence on fossil fuels.

Mega-whats? (4, Informative)

KFury (19522) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911390)

The article states that the factory where the glass is made is also the largest user of the glass:

The factory is now the world's largest single PV module plant, producing 100 megawatts of energy annually.

A megawatt isn't a unit of energy, it's a rate of transfer. Do they mean that it produces a continuous flow of 100 megawatts? If so, they would have to have 604 acres of glass [google.com] (2.4 million of their 1m^2 panels). Of course you need to double that number because they're only collecting power half the day (generously assuming they're at peak output during all daylight hours)

On the other hand, if they're talking about generating 100 megawatt hours over the course of a year, then the plant is generating about 11,000 watts, or enough for about 10 average homes. By those numbers they'd have about 600 panels [google.com] . That's a lot more reasonable.

Wait a minute here.... (4, Funny)

fireman sam (662213) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911394)

Are you saying that ALL computers, including the Linux boxes will be powered by Windows.

Arrrrgggghhhhhhh

Re:Wait a minute here.... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9911431)

What? That's one of the dumbest posts I've ever seen. It has nothing to do with the article what-so-ever!?! What's the matter with you?

Junk the TV part of it.. (1)

NoMercy (105420) | more than 10 years ago | (#9911413)

And give us intergrated LCD shutters.
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