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Government Scientists Put See-Through Solar Windows on the Fast Track

nrel and new energy technologies develop see through solar coating for windows
A company called New Energy Technologies, Inc. is getting a little help from the federal government to push its new transparent solar window coating out of the lab and into the hands of building owners. That help comes in the form of government researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, as part of an ambitious program to help start-ups and other companies get new solar technologies off the ground, create more green jobs, and lower the cost of installed solar energy.

New Energy’s New Solar Coating

The new coating, which New Energy calls SolarWindow, is designed for use on transparent glass in both commercial buildings and homes. Under an agreement with NREL, federal scientists have been working to develop a more efficient prototype, by increasing the number of working solar cells that contact the surface area. Other recent advances in the technology include increasing the size of the windows (the largest so far is one foot square), and developing less expensive coating materials.

Spray-On Solar Coatings

New Energy’s technology joins a growing list of solar inks and sprays that have the potential to lower the cost of installed solar energy. A couple of other examples are Innovalight’s solar ink “tattoo,” and a spray-on solar paint under development at the University of Texas. Scientists at other Department of Energy laboratories are also working on new see-through thin film solar technology that could be applied to windows.

Pesky Government Scientists

The latest employment stats provide a glimmer of hope that the private sector is finally starting to go to work in terms of investing in future economic enterprises. In the meantime, companies with promising breakthrough technologies like SolarWindow are relying on public sector investment to get their innovations into production. There’s nothing new here: for generations, the fossil fuel industry has relied on public sector support to deliver (relatively) cheap, abundant fuel, so it seems fair enough to help launch new low-cost energy technologies with equal, if not more, enthusiasm.

Image: Windows on wikimedia by Gryffindor.

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Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Spoutible.


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