May 1, 2016
A GREEN STARTUP
Brite Solar announced that it already has its first contracts signed, but the innovative company is still gathering the funds needed for a revolutionary product made by glass with a special coating that allows at least 70% visible light to pass through, generating energy at the same time: a transparent solar panel.
The panes developed resemble the rear windows of a car, but instead of having been designed to defrost the window, the thin silver stripes are there to generate electricity. The glass has a transparency of least 70% in full spectrum, and certainly for wavelengths that are crucial to photosynthesis.
Brite develops "Third Generation" technology for solar panels based on new composite organic/inorganic lightweight nanostructured cells, aiming to achieve up to eigth % efficiency or better, with lower costs than today's silicon based thin films panels. For this, they are working on the development and establishment of this production technology on an industrial scale, capable of achieving a commercially desirable panel efficiency at a competitive cost, for the different colour photovoltaic transparent modules.
Brite's production is different than the one of solar photo-electrochemical cells, where the elements are mainly deposited by a purely chemical process and in normal environmental conditions. The company has introduced an innovation that achieves the deposition of most elements of the components with the technology of common ink printing (inkjet printing), using an especially designed printer, that provides the 70% of permeability that allows for the energy production.
Entrepreneur Nick Kanopoulos of Brite Solar is originally from Greece, but moved his company to Eindhoven because of the Netherlands' international reputation as a leader in innovative greenhouse building and horticulture. At Brite, technology and products that will enable the mass production of solar panels are developed, and these can be used as windows in greenhouses, homes and office buildings. The panels can produce energy using both sunlight and artificial light, and are the first reference solar cells with performance, and competitive costs.
Greenhouses fitted with 100 m2 of Brite Solar glass, participating in a pilot project conducted by an agricultural research institute in Greece, were able to produce as many vegetables as ordinary greenhouses, in addition to which they were able to achieve energy savings up to 5400kWh a year.
According to the entrepreneur, the yield depends on the location of the greenhouse, the total surface area covered by glass, and local electricity prices. The payback time for Brite Solar glass - which is also energy-saving - will be between three and six years.
Social and Environmental Impact
The company's main drivers are: a low cost production, as the components are produced at ambient conditions without the need of special measures for purity; aesthetics, allowing client to choice the photosensitive dye; and increased energy efficiency, because it works with diffuse radiation that can hit the window from any direction. It also reduces the need for energy consumption through conventional means, thus contributing to the reduction of gas emissions. All these products are recyclable at its end of life.
The deployment of this technology to the market is expected to have a positive impact on employment in the construction sector, and it might furthermore increase, thanks to today's trend favouring the use of green technologies both at homes and office buildings.