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The Global Energy Prize annually honors outstanding achievements in energy research and technology from around the world that are helping address the world’s various and pressing energy challenges.

Windows as solar batteries

It will not be long before windows in homes will serve not only to let in sunlight but also to capture it and turn it into electricity, thanks to special perovskite cells.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewal Energy Laboratory (NREL) has created a joint private-public consortium devoted to pursuing perovskite technologies.

Practically all photoelectric panels today use crystalline silicon – both dark blue and transparent. Silicon panels have become quite inexpensive but energy efficiency has been estimated at no more than 7-15 percent. Maximums of 26 percent have been achieved, but at considerably higher costs.

Perovskites are crystals that could potentially be used in solar batteries, thanks to their specific characteristics – high superconductivity, magnetoresistance and ferroelectricity.

Thin-film solar cells using perovskites have the capacity to absorb a broader spectrum of light waves and produce greater amounts of electricity given identical solar intensity. As long as eight years ago, scientists produced thin-film solar batteries from perovskites and current models have achieved effectiveness of 20 percent. Some scientists reported levels of even 28 percent.

The NREL has created a combined solar panel bringing together silicon elements and perovskites. Batteries of this sort are able to produce electricity at a rate of 27 percent of captured sunlight.

Scientists believe that photo cells made from crystals of this nature could achieve rates of 40 percent efficiency.

Solar batteries placed not only on rooftops but also on vertical panels – for instance, on windows – have enormous potential. Declining costs in producing “solar” kilowatts makes solar energy much more readily available than ever before. Producing electricity from windows will soon no longer be the realm of fantasy – but a reality

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