The conversation about renewable energy is never far behind the conversation about sustainable populations. One is directly linked to the other and the conversations around both are without fail, heated.
In planning architecture, for the growing population, power and energy consumables are a shifting paradigm. No sooner has one idea been considered than alternative consideration comes into play.
Perhaps the biggest game changer has come about right here in Australia. ClearVue Technologies has presented a breakthrough product that has sent a buzz of excitement throughout the renewable energy field.
Although a solar product, it is not a solar panel as we know it. ClearVue has created a glass product that is totally transparent, with no disturbance to the visual field at all, that gathers solar energy. The certification program, and manufacturing of the glass in China commenced in June of this year, with hopes the product will not be prohibitively expensive at the retail end, despite its cost savings.
“It will be approachable,” says Victor Rossenberg, executive chairman of ClearVue. “Perhaps a little more than double glaze E glass – but I think perhaps within a year, it may even be a little cheaper [than double glaze E glass].”
The possibilities for such a product are so extensive designers and engineers are re-thinking long help concepts.
It is estimated that 5,500 million square metres of flat glass, used primarily in architecture and construction, is globally created each year. Consider the potential power that could be gathered from sky scrapers alone. Then add in awnings, skylights, residential and educational architecture.
In agriculture, commercial greenhouses have been powered by adjacent solar panel fields. With Rossenberg’s glass, the glass walls will power the green house unit. A boon to agriculture not lost on the Federal Government, which has promptly advanced ClearVue a $1.6m grant just for greenhouse application. It will have an immediate and positive impact on agriculture, and the ag economy.
Simplistically, the glass is actually a sandwich which allows the natural, visible wavelength to pass through the structure, while trapping and converting the infrared and ultra violet wavelengths into electricity via the centrally located clear film which supports the nano technology. Measurement of output will vary as the product evolves but reports a generation of 30W per sqm are currently provided, with expectations of 50W in the near future.
The nature of the product also produces a thermal shield, offering a potential 40 percent saving on heating and cooling costs, depending on square meterage of use.
The ClearVue is manufactured for window frames and solar storage cells as a unit, they are now in the process of creating the glass, and allowing designers and engineers the freedom to design the storage as applicable to their architecture.
“The move away from dependency upon any specific frame design to an industry standard IGU that can be supplied to innumerate framing companies and window fabricators will significantly increase ClearVue’s potential to reach a global market faster,” says Rossenberg.
The end game is creating structures of all sorts that actually power themselves with renewable and totally green energy.
“Collect, store, withdraw,” says Rossenberg, clearly excited by the creation of a disruptive technology which he says sees consumers of energy both on the demand side and supply side of the equation.