Sunday Jan 29, 2023

Energy Efficient, Transparent Solar Windows: You Really Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet – CleanTechnica


More than 20 billion square feet of windows are installed every year, and the leading firm Andersen Corporation apparently plans to make some of those billions into energy efficient, transparent solar energy generators that could kick the pace of global energy decarbonization into high gear. The well-known maker of windows and doors just chipped in for a $30 million Series B funding round that will help push the not-so-well-known transparent solar innovator Ubiquitous Energy out of the startup shadows and into the bright sunshine of the global building industries marketplace.

Ubiquitous Energy Hearts Transparent Solar Windows

The idea of transforming windows into fully transparent, see-through PV powerhouses has allured researchers for years. Conventional solar panels block the sun, so that’s out. Thin film PV technology offers an alternative route, but the problem is squeezing out enough clean kilowatts to make the endeavor worthwhile. Thin film is transparent, but overall the technology is not as efficient as conventional photovoltaic panels.

Ubiquitous Energy appears to have solved the riddle with its proprietary transparent solar UE Power™ technology. The key breakthrough is a formula that enables visible light to pass through, while reserving invisible light at both ends of the spectrum to generate electricity.

The company has been hammering away in the lab for the past 10 years and it finally sailed onto the CleanTechnica radar last November, after it installed 100 square feet of its new transparent solar panels above the main entrance to the building of the Biomedical and Physical Sciences Building at Michigan State University.

Andersen Corporation Hearts Energy Efficiency

That MSU project is small potatoes compared to 20 billion square feet, but it was enough to get the attention of Andersen Corporation. The 115-year-old firm is known more for its attention to style, but building decor is not the whole story. Energy efficiency is also a focus of innovation at the company, and energy efficiency is the unsung hero of the decarbonization movement.

Back in 1998, Anderson hopped on board the federal Energy Star® energy efficiency awards initiative. Energy Star is best known for its promotion of energy efficient light bulbs and appliances, and 1998 was the first year that it recognized energy efficiency in windows. too.

All that hard work paid off, and last April Anderson won an Energy Star Partner of the Year Sustained Excellence Award — but not for the first time.

“Andersen has been an ENERGY STAR partner since the Windows program began in 1998 and was the first window manufacturer awarded the ENERGY STAR National Window Partner of the Year in 1999. This is Andersen’s seventh Sustained Excellence Award and the 12th time the company has been recognized by the ENERGY STAR® program,” Andersen explained in a celebratory press release dated April 13, 2021.

“Andersen® products play an important role in contributing to energy-efficient homes and buildings,” the company adds. “This month, the company expanded production of the 100 Series, one of its fastest growing product lines and one with many glass options that make them ENERGY STAR certified.”

As for what Sustained Excellence entails, Andersen is happy to tell you that “winners are part of a distinguished group that has made a long-term commitment to fighting climate change and protecting public health through energy efficiency.”

Transparent Solar Windows: But What Does This All Mean?

All of this means that fossil energy stakeholders could lose their grip on the global economy more quickly than expected. Ubiquitous Energy doesn’t expect that windows can get the job done alone, …….


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