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Windows at a train station in Japan generate electricity

These windows are capable of producing electricity from solar energy
(photo: Eneos)

Windows to generate electricity from solar energy will be installed at one of Japan’s railway stations. Notably, the windows will remain transparent.

Japan’s largest glass producer, the Nippon Sheet Glass (NSG) consortium with oil company Eneos, is about to begin real-world tests of photovoltaic windows. They will let visible light through, but capture infrared and ultraviolet wavelengths to convert into electrical current.

The building will receive “green” electricity and will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions during its operation, the specialized publication PV Magazine reported on the innovation.

NSG manufactures photovoltaic glass using technology developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Michigan State University (MSU). In 2011, Ubiquitous Energy was formed to bring the development to market.

To date, several pilot projects based on Ubiquitous Energy’s photovoltaic glass have been implemented. The project launched by NSG in Japan is likely to become the largest of these.

Glazing with transparent photovoltaic panels will be done at Takanawa Gateway Station in Tokyo. The solar windows will be installed for a period of two months, but if they perform well, they can run longer.

The windows will transfer the generated electricity to batteries and further through an interface to the frame. They will have built-in sensors for light, temperature and wind speed, which will enable the implementation of intelligent indoor climate control when the solar sensor window system is connected to the local heating/air conditioning system.

Building window and facade glazing projects with fully transparent or decorative photovoltaic panels are still counted on the fingers of one hand. The largest of them is on a tall building in Australia, the facade of which will be completely covered with photovoltaic panels. The NSG project is much more modest, but easier to implement and analyze.

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