Commercial building PV transformation? Here are two new solar glass solutions getting buzz

Endorsed by leading glass and fabrication companies including Pilkington, AGC, and Walters & Wolf, Solaria is ready to roll out its PowerVision product, which could transform building facades, skylights, canopies and other structural components into power-generating assets. At the same time, SolarWindow Technologies, developer of electricity-generating windows for tall towers and skyscrapers, has entered into an agreement for the fabrication of SolarWindow products with suburban Los Angeles-based Triview Glass Industries, LLC.

Inside PowerVision

PowerVision 9.2017

Deployment of Solaria’s patented technology —which leverages the reliability and efficiency of crystalline silicon technology— enables structures to generate electricity cleanly and reliably.

“By reimagining commercial and residential building structures, Solaria has devised its PowerVision glass in inventive new ways so that nearly every aspect of a building envelope —beyond the rooftop— can generate electricity,” said Nick Bagatelos, President of Bagatelos Architectural Glass Systems, Inc. “PowerVision builds on the success of PowerXT to enable building owners and developers to turn skylights, windows and building facades into electricity-generating assets. Seamlessly integrated and easily installed into building designs, Solaria’s patented PowerVision transforms buildings into on-site clean power plants.”

“There’s increased demand to evolve building designs to incorporate more solar solutions, and construct, when possible, high performance, Net Zero Energy structures,” noted Solaria CEO Suvi Sharma. “Buildings currently account for forty percent of the world’s energy use — to power light, heat, cool buildings. Now architects, developers and builders can deploy solar everywhere – in skylights, windows and building facades, as well as on rooftops.”

Solaria’s unique solar cell process technology has allowed the company to develop an architecturally beautiful vision glass that can be used in locations not typically associated with solar panels; these include skylights, patios, and window openings, providing a see-through surface that generates electricity. Building owners and occupants accrue many benefits – as solar-outfitted windows mitigate the sunlight’s effect on a building. When combined with high-efficiency solar PV modules, together they offer a seamless strategy to unlock the full power potential of buildings with technologies that boost energy generation, providing high yield at a low cost.

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Extensively tested and demonstrated at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s FLEXLAB, Solaria PowerVision has proven to deliver a unique combination of high performance and high power density with optimized thermal performance, effective daylighting, and glare control.

Details on SolarWindow

The prospect of generating electricity on commercial buildings, which consume nearly 40% of all electricity generated in the US, is made possible when transparent SolarWindow electricity-generating liquid coatings are applied to glass surfaces.

As the company’s select regional fabricator in North America, Triview Glass will work to fabricate specific SolarWindow electricity-generating glass products at commercial scale by integrating SolarWindow technologies into its manufacturing processes.

Commercial buildings are ideal customers for electricity-generating windows, which could reduce electricity demand by 30%-50% and provide a one-year financial payback, according to independently-validated engineering modeling for a 50-story building.

Recently, the company achieved an important fabrication step leading to today’s announcement. SolarWindow electricity-generating coatings were successfully processed through the rigorous autoclave system for window glass lamination at Triview.

Layered with SolarWindow coatings, glass modules were subjected to the extremely high heat and pressure of autoclave equipment located at Triview. Despite the harsh conditions, subsequent performance testing confirmed that SolarWindow modules continued to produce electricity, paving the way for today’s announcement and eventual deployment of the company’s electricity-generating glass products.

— Solar Builder magazine

SolarWindow’s electricity-generating glass achieves processing breakthrough

SolarWindow Technologies announced today that its transparent electricity-generating glass has been successfully processed through the rigorous autoclave system for window glass lamination at a commercial window fabricator.

solarwindow glass

Layered with SolarWindow electricity-generating liquid coatings, glass modules were subjected to the extremely high heat and pressure of autoclave equipment located at the fabricator’s facility. Despite the SolarWindow modules being subjected to the harsh pressure and temperature conditions, subsequent performance testing confirmed that the modules continued to produce power, paving the way for deployment of the company’s electricity-generating windows.

“This is one of the most important advancements for the commercial manufacturing of SolarWindow products, and marks a huge win for all our stockholders, supporters, and scientists and engineers. We’ve long championed the prospect of electricity-generating windows powering skyscrapers and tall towers, which alone consume almost 40% of all the electricity generated in the US,” explained Mr. John A. Conklin, President and CEO of SolarWindow Technologies, Inc.

When clad with electricity-generating windows, tall towers and skyscrapers could become clean power generators. A single SolarWindow installation on a 50-story building, for example, could reduce electricity costs by as much as 50% per year, avoid more than two million miles of equivalent carbon dioxide emitted by vehicles on the road, and achieve a one-year financial payback, according to independently-validated engineering modeling.

“I traveled to a custom window fabrication plant on the west coast and personally oversaw senior production staff assemble and position our SolarWindow modules inside the autoclave, close the door, and initiate the pump-down cycle,” recalled Conklin. “Hours later, I witnessed first-hand the moment that our SolarWindow coatings and modules emerged unscathed, withstanding the extremely high-pressure and temperature inside. I knew immediately that this was a defining moment for SolarWindow.”

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The autoclave manufacturing process uses high heat and pressure to bond layers of glass required for safety and architectural glass. Glass is held in place by an interlayer, between two or more layers of glass. The interlayer keeps the layers of glass bonded even when broken, and its high strength prevents the glass from breaking up into large sharp pieces. The company’s electricity-generating coatings are applied to the inside of these panes and laminate interlayer during manufacturing. The ability of these liquid coatings to withstand the autoclave process is critical to the production of electricity-generating windows.

Today’s announcement follows news that SolarWindow modules recently passed important weather-performance testing after being subjected to more than 200 freeze/thaw cycles. These results confirmed that the company’s electricity-generating coatings withstand real-world weather conditions and achieve long operational lifetimes no matter the outdoor environment that SolarWindow products are exposed to.

— Solar Builder magazine

Investor outlook: Four solar companies to watch as the industry matures

The following perspective was shared with us via Financialbuzz.com

Over the course of the last several years the solar industry has finally gone mainstream. A recent research published on December 12, 2016 by The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) shows how much progress has been made. The U.S. installed 4,143 megawatts (MW) of solar PV in the third quarter of 2016 to reach 35.8 gigawatts (GW) of total installed capacity, enough to power 6.5 million American homes. With more than 1 million residential solar installations nationwide and record-breaking growth in the utility-scale sector, the industry is projected to nearly double year-over-year.

Despite the encouraging numbers however, the industry still faces the challenges that are so familiar to businesses reaching maturity – improving efficiency and cutting costs. Thanks to technological innovations, the solar market is combating these challenges. Solarwindow Technologies, Corning Incorporated, Tesla, Canadian Solar, First Solar.

The innovations ahead

Nevada solar utility

Most solar companies today manufacture solar panels using large portions of silicon, called ingots, and cut it into small rectangular shapes. These silicon components account for approximately 40% of the cost of production for solar panels. While some companies have been finding ways to manufacture panels for cheaper using the same materials, the expectations are now somewhat different.

According to a report by Fortune, “today as the industry matures, much more of the expected lowered production costs will come from new components that plug into traditional silicon solar panels, new ways to manage the electrons from panels, or new ways to finance and sell the panels.” In addition, some innovative companies are coming up with entire new techniques to salvage the sun’s energy.

Solarwindow Technologies creates transparent electricity-generating liquid coatings. When applied to glass or plastics, these coatings convert passive windows and other materials into electricity generators under natural, artificial, low, shaded, and even reflected light conditions. Earlier this week, Solarwindow Technologies announced that, “it has been named a winner in the 2017 BIG Innovation Awards presented by the Business Intelligence Group.

Unlike conventional solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, the company’s coatings can be applied to all sides of tall towers, generating electricity using natural and artificial light, as well from diffused and reflected light, and in shaded areas.

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When applied to a 50-story building, SolarWindow could avoid more than two million miles of equivalent carbon dioxide emitted by vehicles on the road, reduce electricity costs by as much as 50 percent per year, provide 15-times the environmental benefits over other roof-top solar PV systems, and according to independently-validated engineering modeling, could achieve a one-year financial payback.”

On Jan. 18, Solarwindow Technologies revealed that the company’s “scientists and engineers recently applied layers of the company’s liquid coatings on to Corning Willow Glass and laminated them under conditions that simulate the high pressure and temperatures of the manufacturing processes used by commercial glass and window producers. The result is a bendable glass ‘veneer’, as thin as a business card, which generates electricity.” The Corning Willow Glass is developed by Corning Incorporated (NYSE: GLW), a company with expertise in specialty glass, ceramics, and optical physics.

American automaker and energy storage company, Tesla Inc., showcased it’s at-home battery, the Powerwall 2, for homes and small businesses that stores the sun’s energy and delivers clean, reliable electricity when the sun isn’t shining. Chief Executive Officer, Elon Musk, emphasizes that homes can capture this free, abundant energy source through rooftop solar tiles, turning sunlight into electricity for immediate use or storage in a Powerwall battery. The new Tesla Powerwall 2 will cost around $5,500, which consist of a built-in inverter and twice the storage capacity of the first ever Powerwall battery. The product is not yet available out in the market.

Canadian Solar Inc. announced that it has completed the sale of the outstanding shares of 3 utility-scale solar farm holding companies, SSM 1 Solar ULC, SSM 2 Solar ULC, and SSM 3 Solar ULC, totaling 59.8 MW AC to Fengate SSM Holdco LP, an affiliate of Fengate Real Asset Investments for over $195.32 Million. Dr. Shawn Qu, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Canadian Solar, commented, “We are delighted to announce the successful sale of 3 additional solar power plants. To this point, we have sold all of our operating plants of 100 MWdc in Canada, including the BeamLight and Alfred projects sold in December 2016. We value our partnership with Fengate and look forward to deepening our cooperation while we continue to monetize our solar power plants in other countries.”

First Solar Inc. has been awarded the module supply contract for the 140-megawatt Sun Metals Solar Farm in North Queensland, Australia. The project marks the largest solar initiative by the country and, once constructed, is set to utilize more than 1.16 million First Solar advanced thin-film photovoltaic modules to produce approximately 270,000 megawatt-hours of energy in its first year of operation.

“Large-scale solar is fast becoming one of the most cost-effective sources of energy generation in Australia. This project represents the viability of the commercial and industrial solar market in Australia, and the growing trend of major energy consumers owning and operating renewable energy assets,” said Jack Curtis, First Solar’s regional manager for Asia Pacific.

— Solar Builder magazine