Sharp has announced the arrival of see-through solar panels. The new panels are semi-transparent and designed to be used as covering for building balcony railings, or even as windows in certain circumstances where light but not full transparency is desired. The panels provide privacy, but also let light through.
In terms of power, at present the panels provide lower efficiency than standard solar panels, at 6.8 percent with a maximum output of 95 watts. Typical solar panels now have an efficiency of between 15 and 20 percent. However, these panels provide added functionality and can be placed in different locations to standard panels. More energy could be generated by a building from the additional use of these panels.
The see-through solar panels have a laminated glass construction and are 4.5 feet (1.37 meters) wide by 3.2 feet (.97 meters) tall. They are pretty thin at just .37 inches (.93 centermeters).
The panels hit the market in Japan at the beginning of October. There are no details on pricing so far, or if they will be available in other countries. No doubt they will be exported if demand turns out to be reasonable.
Could this be a viable option for owners of apartments who can not otherwise convince their body corporate committees to install solar panels on the rooftop? Do you like the idea of having see-through solar panels on your balcony?