Surfaces that collect solar energy and turn it into electricity don’t have to be aesthetically appalling. This stained glass window is able to achieve that while also looking great.
Marjan van Aubel, a London-based Dutch designer, has found a way of harvesting solar power by integrating photovoltaic cells into stained glass windows. Fully transparent solar cells will also become a reality soon enough, but for people who are also interested in the design, and not only in the functionality of solar panels, these windows might actually represent the better option.
People whose eyes are sensitive to sunlight might actually prefer stained glass windows, as unlike the fully transparent ones, they don’t allow all of the light to pass. Besides that, the projections you get to see in the room when light passes through are simply fabulous.
The Swiss-made Solaronix dye-sensitized solar cells are made of layers of semiconductor crystals, titanium dioxide, and dye that are applied on glass in order to achieve this magnificent effect. Upon absorbing sunlight, the solar cells start exciting electrons, action that leads to the production of electricity. Storing the resulted energy isn’t a problem, as the current is transmitted to a battery located at the bottom of the ledge. Using the battery, users can charge smartphones or even provide power to USB lamps. That might not sound like much, but wouldn’t you rather rely on solar power to charge your gadgets, rather than increase the electricity bill with that? I know I would!
“I imagine these in a church,” said van Aubel. “They would be so amazing there, but you could also have them in offices, or as facades in libraries or museums. They’re good for when you don’t want to have 100% glass, because they block some of the light. The metal parts of a window normally heat up, but these generate electricity.”
Van Aulden is not at her first attempt at creating a uniquely-designed solar panel. The Current Table, as the solar table she developed is called, uses the same principle and the same solar cells as the stained glass window.
Along with her business partner Thor Schuitemaker, van Aubel set up a company named Caventou that sells solar-incorporating products such as the ones described above. Hopefully, the commercial versions won’t be very expensive, even though that’s to be expected, given the innovative nature of these products.
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