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Tech startup creates windows with built-in solar panels that absorb infrared and ultraviolet light

The California company makes windows with built-in solar panels to help residents comply with state regulations mandating that all new residential structures use solar energy

  • A technology company in Redwood City has made windows with solar panels in them
  • The windows only absorb infrared and ultraviolet light to avoid vague interiors
  • The company believes that the windows can be used in cars, offices and iPhones

A California energy startup has designed windows with built-in solar panels, which they hope will accelerate the widespread transition to carbon-free power sources that the state is encouraging with new building codes.

Designed by Ubiquitous Energy, the windows are covered with a layer of organic dye that is only 1 / 1000th of a millimeter thick.

The dye layer captures infrared and ultraviolet light waves and converts the energy into electricity that can be stored in a battery and used to power a home or office.

ClearView Power windows (pictured above) are designed by Ubiquitous Energy, using a thin layer of organic dye that captures ultraviolet and infrared light waves from the sun and transmits visible light, making it possible to harvest solar energy without any dimming effect

ClearView Power windows (pictured above) are designed by Ubiquitous Energy, with a thin layer of organic dye that captures ultraviolet and infrared light waves from the sun and allows visible light to pass through, making it possible to harvest solar energy without any dimming effect

Unlike conventional solar panels, which absorb the full spectrum of sunlight, the windows sold under the ClearView Power brand let in visible sunlight for low dimming.

The company hopes to take advantage of a new mandate from the California government, requiring all homes built in 2020 or beyond to be built.

“This is great for ClearView Power because homeowners can install windows the way they would anyway, but they actually produce power to meet this requirement,” said Ubiquitous Energy founder Miles Barr told CNN.

Because the windows do not absorb the full spectrum of sunlight, they are not as energy efficient as traditional solar panels.

According to Barr, at peak performance, the windows generate about two-thirds of the amount of energy that conventional solar panels do.

The only location that currently has the ClearView Power windows is Ubiquitous Energy's Redwood City office (pictured above), but company co-founder Miles Barr believes they can be used in skyscrapers, cars and even smartphones

The only location that currently has the ClearView Power windows is Ubiquitous Energy's Redwood City office (pictured above), but company co-founder Miles Barr believes they can be used in skyscrapers, cars and even smartphones

The only location that currently has the ClearView Power windows is Ubiquitous Energy’s Redwood City office (pictured above), but company co-founder Miles Barr believes they can be used in skyscrapers, cars and even smartphones

They also cost about 20 percent more to install than conventional windows, but Barr believes the cost can easily be offset by lower energy costs.

So far, the only location that uses the windows is the Ubiquitous Energy’s own offices in Redwood City.

The company currently offers rectangular grilles with six 14-by-20-inch glass panels.

Since the windows do not absorb the bull spectrum of sunlight, they only produce about two-thirds of the amount of energy that conventional solar panels do, but Barr believes that since they only cost about 20 percent more than conventional windows, they will pay for it

Since the windows do not absorb the bull spectrum of sunlight, they only produce about two-thirds of the amount of energy that conventional solar panels do, but Barr believes that since they only cost about 20 percent more than conventional windows, they will pay for it

Since the windows do not absorb the bull spectrum of sunlight, they only produce about two-thirds of the amount of energy that conventional solar panels do, but Barr believes that since they only cost about 20 percent more than conventional windows, they will pay for it

Barr believes the windows can be used for everything from residential to industrial spaces, and the glass could even be used in electronics to provide extra power to batteries.

“It can be applied to skyscraper windows; it can be applied to glass in cars; it can be applied to the glass of your iPhone, “he said.

“We really see the future of this technology as applied everywhere, all around us, ubiquitous.”

WHAT IS SOLAR ENERGY?

Solar panels convert energy from the sun into electrical energy (stock image)

Solar panels convert energy from the sun into electrical energy (stock image)

Solar panels convert energy from the sun into electrical energy (stock image)

Solar energy is the conversion of energy from sunlight into electricity.

There are two methods for generating solar energy.

Photovoltaic solar energy – the kind of solar panel you may see built into a calculator – can convert light directly into electrical energy.

However, in concentrated solar power systems, mirrors or lenses are first used to capture and focus the sunlight that hits a wide area, creating heat that can be used to power a steam turbine and generate electricity.

The productivity of solar panels depends on the sunlight they receive in a particular location – a factor that depends on both latitude and climate.

Optimal locations for solar farms are the arid tropics and subtropics, with deserts located at such low latitudes and often cloudless, receiving around 10 hours of sunlight each day.

According to NASA, the eastern part of the Sahara – the Libyan desert – is the sunniest place on Earth.

Solar energy accounted for 1.7 percent of global electricity production in 2017 and is growing at 35 percent annually.

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