Originally published on Green Building Elements (with minor edits).
No, I’m not talking about letting sunlight into the room. These windows actually generate electricity!
They are being installed in the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon, Saskatechewan, and they are connected to the local electricity grid. Solar panels are usually connected to the local electricity grid to supply the grid with electricity using net metering. It is done by solar panel owners to help offset their energy usage when they are producing surplus electricty.
In this case, solar powers the Cathedral, and leftover power is fed directly to the electricity grid.
Lux Gloria is one of several installations designed by Sarah Hall, an artist of Toronto. Her designs aim to blend the functionality of solar panels with the aesthetics of hand-painted glass, according to Popular Science.
When the installation is complete, the solar panels are expected to generate 2,500 kWh of electricity per year. That is one third to one quarter of the energy used by the average home in Saskatoon. This is also Saskatoon’s first BIPV (Building-Integrated Photovoltaics) project which is connected to a power distribution network (the power grid).
The solar cells are trapezoidal, silver, and are sandwiched between multiple layers of coloured glass.
Because the solar cells aren’t transparent, Hall adds a high-tech “dichroic” glass to the back of the cells in some cases to make them colorful and reflective.
New solar technologies for windows that would allow them to be transparent and generate solar energy, such as spray-on photovoltaic coatings, are currently under development for use in building-integrated photovoltaics.