Transparent photovoltaic surface is a gamechanger
Aix-en-Provence based Wysips® (What You See Is Photovoltaic Surface), a subsidiary of Sunpartner, is ramping up the production of a transparent photovoltaic surface. Since winning the CTIA prize for groundbreaking innovations in Orlando, Florida in 2011, Wysips has further developed the technology reaching 90% transparency and packing enough power generation in an 0.5mm layer beneath the tactile surface to offset the energy consumption of the ‘network search’ function of a mobile phone and placing emergency calls.
Applications in mobile phones and tablets tend to attract much of the attention, with the immediate promise of extending battery life by 20% and even the perspective of dispensing with battery altogether especially in markets where mobile telecommunications are more developed that the electricity grid. However, other potential applications are round the corner: for instance, integrating wysips in existing windows offers the potential of moving old buildings in the direction of smart zero-energy buildings. Using such technology, the first zero-energy billboards will get to market by the end of this year. Application in textiles are also under development.
Sipping my drink in front on Notre-Dame de Paris yesterday evening, I was even dreaming of more far-reaching applications. While placing traditional solar panels on the roof of the cathedral would generate a huge outcry, what about covering the roof with a transparent photovoltaic film? Could it also serve as a protecting layer? If so, could the use be extended to cover the walls of buildings, in order not only to take them towards energy self-sufficiency, but also to avoid costly restoration? And what about cars, trains, planes being coated with such a photovoltaic surface? What about glasshouses, which we cannot cover with traditional photovoltaic surface without defeating the purpose of letting sunlight reaches plants in a wheather-sheltered environment?
Undoubtedly, some of these ideas may not come to fruition, but thinking about them, arguably with a drink in hand on a warm summer evening, I find little reason why they could not be subject to rapid prototyping. And then who knows? At any rate transparent photovoltaic surface could be a massive gamechanger.