With the global population swelling and industrialization on the rise in developing nations, keeping pace with humanity’s need for energy is a demanding challenge that is only projected to become even more challenging moving forward. According to a report released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), electricity for lighting, space heating and cooling, appliances and equipment – is the fastest-growing energy use in residential and commercial buildings, accounting for 29% of total U.S. end-use energy consumption in 2020.
To face this crucial issue, more and more companies are reinventing buildings to be experiential, sustainable, healthy and smart. Among them is Ubiquitous Energy, a Silicon Valley technology company founded on the principle of seamlessly integrating solar technology into everyday products and surfaces.
Generating Renewable Energy Through Smart Windows
We all know how incredibly significant windows are in the design of a building. They are vital for the structure’s aesthetics and they provide the occupants with insulation, light and protection from the outdoors as well for the structure itself. Windows of course also play a key role when it comes to the efficiency of the building and in determining heating and cooling costs.
When it comes to efficiency, low emissivity glass (Low-E) glass is the primary feature in the windows of many of the business and residential buildings in the U.S. According to the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), these energy efficient windows account for over 80% of the window market in the residential sector and over 50% of the window market in the commercial sector. But as popular as these Low-E windows are, there’s a feature that takes the concept of energy efficiency even further.
To respond to the urgent need for alternative energy in the building sector, Ubiquitous Energy has developed an ingenious technology that is both highly efficient and aesthetically acceptable: smart windows powered by transparent photovoltaic window coatings harnessing renewable solar energy.
This novel and patent protected technology (UE Power™) uses a highly transparent, color neutral coating that selectively absorbs and converts invisible UV and IR light to electricity while transmitting visible light – the only way to achieve true transparency. The technology also doubles as a low-E and solar control coating, by blocking solar heat infrared light and. The coating is then applied directly to the window glass using thin-film deposition known as physical vapor deposition, similar to how Low-E coatings are applied. This coating provides electricity generation, while maintaining the transparent color and design of a traditional window and creating clean, renewable energy to further enable smart homes, net zero energy buildings and beyond. In fact, Ubiquitous Energy smart windows have shown a 10% power conversion efficiency, allowing consumers to save on energy use and to lower energy bills.
Once the windows are installed, all the necessary wires are hidden within the frame or within the window itself. The electricity that is generated can be used on the window (to power electronics features such as sensors or automated mechanics) or can be fed into the building’s electricity grid – and connected to an energy management system, electronic controls or energy storage like batteries.
Miles Barr, CTO of Ubiquitous said it well: “Other solar window technologies have tradeoffs in transparency, color, haze or energy efficiency. This technology overcomes that, by providing an effective solar panel that is also a beautiful energy efficient window”.
This pioneering technology turns traditional windows into aesthetically pleasing and highly energy efficient electricity generating windows, that are desired by architects, designers and occupants all over the world.
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