Sharp has unveiled a semi-transparent solar panel that is able to harness energy from the sun while still allowing some light to pass through. The new panels aren’t able to capture and generate as much power as a traditional solar cell but their aesthetic properties will allow them to be used as a replacement building material for standard glass panes in patio glass, skylights or even windows.
The black photovoltaic panels measure in at 4.5-feet wide by 3.2-feet tall and are only 0.37-inches thick. Each panel is rated at 6.8 percent / 98 watt max efficiency which isn’t a whole lot compared to the standard 10-20 percent that modern panels are capable of but considering it’s free energy (after it’s recouped its cost, of course), it’s better than nothing.
In addition to collecting energy, the solar panels also act as a heat shield thanks to their unique construction. As Engadget highlights, the energy-producing cells are embedded inside a laminated glass structure while an air slot acts as a thermal barrier.
The international press release points out that the panels have already won at least one design award. The company will be launching these solar panels starting October 1 in Japan. Sharp hasn’t announced if the panels will be coming to the US nor do we have any idea how much they will cost once released.