ClearVue’s Solar Glass Approaches Prime Time

ClearVue - solar energy from windows

ClearVue Solar Glass | Image: Vicinity Centres

ClearVue has installed its solar PV glass at a shopping centre in Western Australia, converting an atrium’s windows into clean power generators.

It’s quite fitting this demonstration project is occurring at Vicinity Centres’ Warwick Grove Shopping Centre – Vicinity has been ploughing millions of dollars into decking out many of its shopping centers with (conventional) solar power system installations.

The ClearVue solar glass has been installed at the Centre’s northern entrance door area, replacing an existing glass atrium. It will charge a battery and provide power for atrium lighting, external signage and a display screen inside.

“By integrating our solar glass into the atrium entrance at this Centre, we are now able to demonstrate how ClearVue’s technologies can be deployed as skylights and building facades in commercial and retail applications,” said ClearVue Executive Chairman Victor Rosenberg.

Another major leap for the company with this project is it’s the first time solar windows of different shapes have also been used – triangular and non-rectangular polygons.

How Does ClearVue Work?

The company says a special nanoparticle interlayer and spectral selective coating on the rear external surface of the Insulated Glass Unit (IGU) allows 70% of visible wavelength light through, but stops much of the heat and unwanted solar radiation (infrared and UV) from penetrating the glass pane; so there’s also some insulation benefits. The infrared/UV is redirected to the edge of the window where it is harvested by conventional solar cells1.

How ClearVue solar glass windows work

ClearVue have a video explaining its product in more detail here.

Power? Energy? Cost?

As to how much power and energy this solar window demonstration project will generate, ClearVue’s news release doesn’t say, but according to the company’s web site the solar glass is capable of producing a minimum of 30 watts per metre square and 50 watts will be possible with further development2.

Regarding the anticipated cost of ClearVue windows, that information doesn’t appear to be publicly available as yet.

The Warwick Grove system will be monitored and it will be very interesting to see how it performs.  Vicinity’s Justin Mills seems pretty enthusiastic about the tech.

“ClearVue could transform the way we use glass in our centres which not only reinvents the way we harvest renewable energy but further reduces our exposure to the volatile energy market – a key focus for Vicinity,” he said.

It’s been a long road to this point for ClearVue. It was first established in 1996 as Tropiglas Technologies Ltd, which ceased operations in 2007. It then recommenced operations in 2010 and subsequently changed focus to building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV). ClearVue has been working with the Electron Science Research Institute (ESRI) at Edith Cowan University to develop its product.

Footnotes

  1. While solar panels mostly convert visible light into electrical energy, they also make use of almost half the infrared energy, but only a small portion of ultraviolet is utilised – more on this here
  2. Just as a comparison – a conventional solar panel with 17% efficiency and an area of 1m² would produce 170 watts under standard test conditions.
About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. The vicinity project was an interesting one. It demonstrated that this particular solar window is still along way from competing with a compelling and sustainable outcome compared to traditional renewables and other entrants. ClearVue has acknowledged funding this project directly at a cost in excess of AUD$ 150,000 with only 18 active glass units that are proving in perfect solar conditions to produce a very low output of 11watts then falling to 8watts per unit. Check out the figures on site on their dashboard since ClearVue have removed the link to view remotely. The output of the structure is considerably lower and not supporting a strong business case at this stage. Let’s follow this exciting application to see where it lands with some strong competition rapidly growing globally such as solarwindows out of the US but also onyx (https://www.onyxsolar.com/ ) who have brought some really high power generating glass solutions and big names like velux whom have brought into Australia solar skylights.

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