A solar power company capable of “printing” colourful glass that can generate electricity from the sun’s energy announced a £2m funding boost on Tuesday.
Oxford Photovoltaics, a spin-off from the University of Oxford, said the investment from clean-tech investors MTI Partners will help its solar glass, which can be dyed almost any colour, take a step closer to the commercial market.
“What we say here is rather than attach [solar] photovoltaics to the building, why not make the building the photovoltaics?” Kevin Arthur, the company’s founder and CEO, told the Guardian. “If you decide to build a building out of glass, then you’ve already decided to pay for the glass. If you add this, you’re adding a very small extra cost. [The solar cell treatment] costs no more than 10% of the cost of the facade.”
These generally cost between £600 and £1,000 per square metre, meaning the new cell treatment wouild cost just £60-£100 extra per square metre.
The technology works by adding a layer of transparent solid-state solar cells at most three microns thick to conventional glass, in order to turn around 12% of the solar energy received into low-carbon electricity. The power can then be exported to the national grid or used for the running of a building.
“Within reason we can print any colour, there’s a wide range of dyes, blues and greens and reds and so on. But different colours have different efficiencies: black is very high, green is pretty good and red is good, but blue is less good,” said Arthur.