No longer would you need to install solar cells on your roof as your windows would become a source of electricity. Scientists at UCLA in the US have invented transparent solar cells that can be fitted on your windows and they won't block the outdoor sight. With plenty of sunshine and real estate in the country to capture solar energy, India and a fast-growing city like Gurgaon can develop a road map to adapt or use this newly developed solar technology in the US,
THOUGH THE transparent solar cells, invented by scientists at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), would be available for commercial use after at least five years in the US, the technology that has been developed can be a solution to power woes in India too. India and most cities in the country face a power crisis almost round the year - peaking in the hot and sultry summers.
Considering how scientists have minitiarized solar capturing technology in the US and made it more aesthetic and operationally viable through transparent solar cells, similar development or adpatation of technology in India can help in extra power generation that's truly 'green' and reduce dependence on polluting conventional fossil fuels.
Gurgaon, like most cities in India, can use transparent solar cells to cater to its power demand. Haryana is struggling to provide commercial and residential power to its cities including Gurgaon, though the Millennium City has taken baby steps to step up solar powar usage - through private initiatives - though there are issues such as cost and operational efficiency.
The Dwal Padi area in Gurgaon had installed conventional solar cells but DLF Phase 1 residents removed the cells that looked like an eyesore and didn't work when there was no solar energy. “They were not very effective and people also don't have enough knowledge about solar cells. Even many guesthouses had installed them but as far as I know, even they got them removed,” said RS Rathee, President, Gurgaon Citizen's Council.
Though people would look for a trusted formula, but Mr Rathee believes that people, given a chance, would go for transparent solar cells, which wouldn't occupy any space and provide energy at the same time. “Only thing needed is that they should be economical,” says Mr Rathee.
“Some projects are already studying the installation of solar cells here and there is a need to tap the solar power, which is abundant in India,” said Ashok Arya, President, DLF Qutab Enclave Residents' Welfare Association. “People removed the cells from their houses, apparently they never boiled water, which residents had expected from them,” he added.
The thin but transparent solar cells, invented by UCLA scientists, can turn the energy of sun into electricty, while allowing visible light to pass through it. In layman's language, the cells can replace window glasses. So transparent and thin are the cells that scientists maintain that it would be difficult to tell the difference between them and a piece of glass.
Made of plastic that absorbs infrared light, the solar cells would let most visible light pass through. Even the metal that carries the charge out of the cell would be transparent. Yang Yang, director of California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) was quoted by Mail Online: “These results open the potential for visibly transparent polymer solar cells as add-on components of portable electronics, smart windows and building-integrated photovoltaics and in other applications.”
Though the cell is 70% transparent to the human eye but it comes with a rider as well. The cell wouldn't be as effective as an opaque one. And as Yang said, '30% of a cell's absorbing capability had to be sacrificed in solving the visibility problem.'
Still, given that a city like Gurgaon has many buildings and large residential projects, transparent solar cells, while only providing a minor percentage of power supply, can, in the long run, reduce the city's power consumption through concentional power sources. “These transparent solar cells are the answer to the power crisis and everyone will buy them. Besides they don't expose our gadgets and electronic devices to high-voltage currents, so they would be a great buy. But presently there is no solution in sight and only non-renewable sources of energy can bail us out,” maintained V K Trehun, Vice President of the Residents Welfare Association, DLF Phase I.
Mr Rathee believes that there is lack of a government initiative regarding the tapping of solar energy in the city. “First and foremost, their cost needs to be minimised and secondly authorities should initiate the process by installing solar cells in government building like HUDA and MCG offices,” Mr Rathee opined.
One hopes that Gurgaon and the government of India takes inspiration from the technology that UCLA has developed in solar powar, and invests in solar technology in a big way.