While most people seem to hold the impression that solar panels are black-shaded tiles which are installed on rooftops just to generate power, researchers at Mingdao University’s Photovoltaic Research Center unveiled their latest innovation yesterday — thin-film solar cell modules that can be used to make transparent windows with full-color images on them.
At a press conference in Taipei, images of a monarch butterfly, the Virgin Mary, Bodhidharma, a nighttime scene of skyscrapers, Taipei 101 and other colorful designs were displayed on glass window panes covered with laser-plotted thin-film solar cells.
Meanwhile, university students explained how the technology could be used to generate electricity.
Photovoltaic Research Center director Lien Shui-yang (連水養) said the thin-film solar cells are cheaper and thinner than the traditional crystalline silicon solar panels and they are therefore easier to incorporate into urban life.
Although a standard size 1.1m by 1.4m solar cell window can generate about 100 watts per hour, while the color-imaged windows can only generate about 90 watts per hour — enough to power about four energy-saving light bulbs for an hour — Lien said he is still positive about their market potential.
Consumers can choose to customize the windows into pieces of art — either for their pleasure or for commercial use — while at the same time generating electricity to power electric appliances, the research center director said.
Lien said that six of the windows would be installed in the energy classroom at Yunlin County’s Sinyi Elementary School in October for demonstration purposes.
Mingdao University president Chen Shih-shiung (陳世雄) said that the school has been emphasizing the importance of green energy for years.
Chen said that Mingdao was the first university to establish a photovoltaics research center in Taiwan.
The center has been involved in more than 30 research projects in the past three years, he added.