New tech: Solar Windows

The windows actually turn sunlight into electricity

SAN FRANCISCO, California (CBS) – At the headquarters of Ubiquitous Energy near San Francisco there are black solar panels on the roof. But the lights in the company conference room are being powered by the windows, which are also acting as solar collectors.

“That’s kind of the problem we set out to solve with our technology, is how can you make a solar technology that’s completely invisible, and by making it invisible, now we can apply it to many more surfaces,” says Ubiquitous Energy co-founder Miles Barr.

The company has invented an invisible coating using photo-sensitive dyes that capture energy from only the non-visible infrared and ultraviolet spectrums, turning windows into see-through solar panels. “So, you can use the full surface, the full vertical surface of a glass skyscraper to generate electricity that can be used by the building,” Barr says.

Other companies are working on similar technology. Next Energy Technologies just released a prototype window with a transparent coating that can harness solar energy.

Ubiquitous Energy already has its windows on several buildings and the company is now gearing up for full scale production in 2024.

“We’re talking about, you’re buying a window and now do you want to pay a little bit more so your window produces electricity as well?” says Ubiquitous Energy CEO Susan Stone.

Stone says there may be more uses down the road. Theoretically, the same coating could be applied to any hard or painted surface, allowing electronic devices and even parked cars to charge themselves.

If builders start using the windows, the energy possibilities are staggering. Ubiquitous Energy says every year, more than 20 billion square feet of window glass is installed around the world.

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