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Sharp Releases Transluscent Solar Panels for Aesthetic Solar Power

Yesterday, Sharp released a new solar panel that is translucent, making it an aesthetically-pleasing option for architectural use. As illustrated below, the panels can be incorporated into a building’s balcony railings and you would never suspect that they were anything other than tinted safety glass.

Solar panel incorporated within railings (Credit: Sharp Japan)

Since these panels block the sun’s heat, one could imagine them being used in lieu of the double-paned glass in skylights, made into a large sky roof, or used atop electric vehicles to recharge their batteries. Rooftop locations provide the best angle to maximize power generation.

Would anyone use them as regular windows? It would depend on the amount of available sun, of course, and probably more viable in large buildings that tower over the landscape than a single-story home (e.g., hotels in Las Vegas, Nevada).¬† If the cost of Sharp’s new panels¬† is reasonable, we can look forward to seeing how creative architects and designers get with them.

It is hard to say how well these panels will do in the market. Back in 2009, Konarka Power Plastic also made a see-through solar panel. Unfortunately, the company went bankrupt earlier this year because of the high cost, low efficiency and short lifespan of their panels, according to a GigaOM report.

Hopefully, Sharp will be able to make theirs relatively competitive and enable more solar energy to be made in more places with more style than ever before.

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(Featured image credit: Sharp Japan)

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