Panasonic Holdings will roll out “power-generating glass” by 2028 under plans announced Thursday, with thin layers of efficient perovskite solar cells incorporated into panes that remain transparent enough to use as windows.
The module features a conversion efficiency of 17.9%—the world’s second-highest for a perovskite cell larger than 800 sq. centimeters, beaten out recently by the 18.6% of China’s UtmoLight.
The Japanese company launched a test project Thursday, installing the glass on the balcony of a model house in its smart-town project in Kanagawa prefecture.
“We’ll use its globally top-class efficiency as a selling point,” said a representative involved in developing the cells. “Any place in the world where glass is used is a potential market, like office windows and shopping arcade skylights.”
Panasonic, which began developing the cells in 2014, aims to build the business into one worth tens of billions of yen, or hundreds of millions of dollars.
The cells combine the flexibility of perovskite inkjet printing technology from Panasonic that allows the material to be deposited evenly on a glass surface. A layer of perovskite less than 1 micron thick is sandwiched between two sheets of glass.
Because perovskite cells are nearly black in color, applying the material to glass makes it harder to see through and lets in less light. Panasonic’s test uses a horizontal stripe pattern of perovskite that leaves about half the glass transparent, enabling it to generate energy while ensuring that it can still be used as a window. The proportions can be changed, depending on where the glass is installed.
Going forward, Panasonic will consider details of the business model, such as whether to work with group companies to sell the cells as a building material or to take orders from materials suppliers to apply the perovskite to glass. It will also work to improve the durability of the perovskite.