A bank in the Netherlands is set to become the world’s first building to be fitted with electricity-generating windows.
The windows, developed by a start-up called PHYSEE – a spin-out company from the University of Delft – are perfectly transparent and aesthetically unobtrusive. At first glance, they look like any normal modern windows. However, where an ordinary window reflects 30 per cent of light that reaches its surface, the PowerWindow captures this light for energy generation.
“We convert the incoming light into invisible light and transport it through the glass to the sides of the window where solar cells convert it into electricity,” said PHYSEE’s co-founder Willem Kesteloo, who started the company together with his Delft University colleague Ferdinand Grapperhaus in 2014.
During their time at Delft University, Kesteloo and Grapperhaus developed a transparent luminescent coating that behaves similarly to glow-in-the-dark paint. Since then, the two have worked tirelessly to develop their dream product – a window that would enable architects to take advantage of the power-generating potential of glazed surfaces without jeopardising the aesthetics.
The windows will now for the first time be trialled in a real building. Amsterdam-based developer OVG Real Estate will use 30 square metres of the power-generating windows in the new Rabobank headquarters building in Eindhoven. Employees on each floor will have access to a PowerWindow and will be able to use the energy generated by the panel to charge their phones. PHYSEE says the pilot, which will start in June 2016, will be the first demonstration globally of fully transparent power-generating windows.
“We’ve entered this partnership with PHYSEE regarding their PowerWindow because we believe in new developments with the right combination of sustainability and technology,” said Coen van Oostrom, CEO of OVG Real Estate.
Kesteloo’s and Grapperhaus’s research into luminescent solar concentrators was overseen by Erik van der Kolk from the Delft University. The university is one of PHYSEE’s shareholders and has applied for a global patent for the technology.