How windows will soon be transformed into sources of energy

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How windows will soon be transformed into sources of energy

In the next few days, every window in your house could generate electricity. This is after energy experts made a major breakthrough that will allow homeowners, property developers and businesses to replace their windows with solar panels.

Energy experts and researchers around the world are working on this tantalizing idea by using technology to transform the way solar energy is collected and harnessed.

At the heart of the technology is the use of transparent solar harvesting systems embedded in windows that work by absorbing invisible wavelengths of sunlight to convert energy into electricity.

Although relatively in its infancy and still in the laboratory, thin film technology is the latest approach to solar technology.

But even before the technology arrives in Kenya, experts have mixed views on its viability.

“Any solar technology has great potential, as has already been demonstrated with an increasing number of companies installing panels in an effort to go green,” said Carol Koech, CEO of Schneider Electric.

Kenya has high rates of insolation – exposure to sunlight – with an average of five to seven peak hours of sunshine.

This means that one square meter of solar panel can generate up to six kilowatts of electricity, enough to power 600 10-watt light bulbs for one hour.

Most solar panels use silicon as the material that receives solar energy, but solar windows need something different because silicon is not transparent.

The thin film solar panel is made of one or more layers of thin film material having the ability to absorb light and generate power. These photovoltaic cells that make up the panel are a fraction of the thickness of a coin.

“It’s flashy and cool, but it really doesn’t make much sense,” says Professor Izael Da Silva, renewable energy specialist and deputy vice-chancellor for research and innovation. at Strathmore University.

“I would argue for the solar panel installed on the roof and it will cost four times less than what would be used to install the film technology,” he says.

Despite its relatively low adoption among countries in Africa, solar power has proven to be the easiest and cheapest way to generate electricity, while minimizing environmental risks.

Besides thin-film solar, other approaches to solar generation technology previously adopted include solar carport, solar tiles, floating solar pack, and ground-mounted solar installations.

An analysis of the changing tides of the global energy landscape shows that electricity will underpin Africa’s economic future, with solar leading the way.

“Africa is home to 60% of the best solar resources in the world, but only 1% of the installed solar photovoltaic capacity. Renewables, primarily solar PV, account for the majority of new capacity additions due to steadily falling costs driven by rapid global adoption. Africa Economic Outlook 2022.

However, there are obstacles to absorbing solar energy.

Challenges to investing in solar power relate to expensive financing options, lack of awareness, especially among rural dwellers, enabling environment, and access to technical support services.

In April 2014, Parliament approved the exemption of specialist retailers of solar equipment from the 16% tax imposed under the VAT law which entered into force on 2 September 2013.

Kenya is an active market for commercial PV systems in the developing world, with an installed PV capacity of around 4 MW, with around 200,000 rural households equipped with solar home systems.

The country’s energy sector is largely dominated by oil and electricity, with firewood including charcoal and firewood being the basic source of energy for rural communities, the urban poor and the private sector. informal.

Access to electricity remains low despite the government’s goal to increase electricity connectivity to 65% by 2022 from 15% currently. Last-mile electrification has slowed, however, and the 2022 goal of universal access to electricity has since been pushed back to 2026.

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Rosemary C. Kearney