By Jesse Berst
If you have friends at San Diego Gas & Electric, then you've heard of the difficulties rooftop solar can cause. With one of the nation's highest penetrations of solar PV, SDG&E is racing around to find ways to control the massive swings up and down. They're even considering grid scale storage.
Solar on every rooftop will be enough of a problem as it gradually arrives in other regions. But what if there were solar in every window? That is the possibility held out by scientists at UCLA. They have invented a thin, transparent plastic solar cell that could be used on windows to generate power, the Los Angeles Times reported. Solar panel is 70% transparent to the whole human eye. Its power conversion efficiency is only 4%, but that figure would undoubtedly go up if the material is perfected for mass production.
This solar-cell material could even be fabricated as a liquid and sprayed on the surfaces â€“ windows, consumer electronics, or even a skyscraper. The UCLA team claims the cells can be produced at a very low cost and in high volumes. And that suggests a future where every south-facing wall and window is a power producer.
6 new smart grid (and related) technologies: Brilliant or bizarre?
Take a quick tour of 5 smart energy projects with big potential
Startup wants to be the Steve Jobs of solar
Jesse Berst is the founder and chief analyst of Smart Grid News.com, the industry's oldest and largest smart grid site. A frequent keynoter at industry events in the U.S. and abroad, he also serves on advisory committees for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Institute for Electric Efficiency. He often provides strategic consulting to large corporations and venture-backed startups. He is a member of the advisory boards of GridGlo and Calico Energy Services.