NEXT Energy Technologies Inc. announced the results of a multi-year photovoltaic (PV) window project, which it completed as part of the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN2). The project shows the overall energy-efficiency performance of NEXT’s transparent PV windows compared to traditional commercial windows.
IN2 is a renewable technology initiative with a focus on supporting scalable solutions to reduce the energy impact of commercial buildings. It is co-managed by the Wells Fargo Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
The results of the study indicate that NEXT’s technology could lower the solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) from an otherwise equal window to below .20.
“These are extremely significant results for the energy efficiency of insulating glass,” said Garret Henson, vice president sales and marketing at Viracon, an investor in NEXT Energy. “Achieving a SHGC below .20 while providing neutral aesthetics has been a monumental challenge for all of us that create vacuum deposition architectural coated glass. Balancing performance and appearance is the heart of ideal harmony and it appears NEXT has done just that.”
The results are important given that commercial buildings account for 36% of all U.S. electricity consumption at a cost of more than $190 billion annually, NEXT said. Windows represent 30% of a commercial building’s heating and cooling energy. This costs U.S. building owners around $50 billion annually, according to the DOE.
Lowering of the SHGC represents a median source energy savings of around 10% across all locations and a maximum source energy savings of up to 50% in some locations compared to baseline scenarios for today’s traditional windows.
“To effectively mitigate climate change, we need to fundamentally rethink how we design, construct, power, and manage our built environment,” said Daniel Emmett, CEO of NEXT. “Our project data shows these windows can help buildings reduce energy consumption by improving the efficiency of windows and generating electricity for the building.”
NEXT’s transparent energy harvesting technology is designed to allow architects and building owners to turn windows and glass facades into producers of low-cost, on-site, renewable energy for buildings. The PV technology is enabled by proprietary organic semiconducting materials that are earth-abundant and low-cost. This material is coated uniformly onto glass as an ink in a high-speed, low-cost, low-energy process, enabling the glass to harvest the sun’s light and convert it into electricity rather than heat.