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The following is part of an article by Lance Turner that was published in ReNew Magazine, Issue 132, July-September 2015, a special issue on building materials. ReNew is published by the Alternative Technology Association.

‘Solar Panels: the new building material?
…The roof is not the only place where BIPV’s [building integrated photovoltaics] are being used: it is also possible to install windows that actually generate electricity. This has the added benefit that the windows reduce the incoming energy and so help keep the building cool. The main disadvantage of a PV window is the higher cost should a breakage occur. They’ll also reduce solar gain in winter, thus reducing warmth collected passively.

…Solaronix (www.solaronix.com) has commercialised a dye-sensitive solar cell that is available in a range of colours and transparencies and has already been used in at least one large commercial installation, the 33m2 facade at the SwissTech Convention Center in Switzerland.

Onyx Solar (www.onyzsolar.com) also has available solar glass panels in four sizes, suitable for windows, skylights, walkways and even as floor tiles. They also do custom sizes for projects where standard sizes won’t do.
With numerous companies working on transparent solar cells, [and I’ve not mentioned them all] it shouldn’t be long before PV windows become a real option, although they may take a little longer to filter through to Australia.’

Now I don’t pretend to understand the technology of building these new panels but I would certainly like to hope that there is scope for introducing decorative designs into them. If you are interested in these emerging new possibilities, have a look at the ReNew article or the SwissTech Convention Center website for more detail and images or

With thanks to Robyn Deed and ReNew Magazine for permission to publish the extract.

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