By Myrna M. Velasco
SINGAPORE – For countries and metropolis that are lacking in available surface spaces and even indigenous energy resources but are determined to contribute to the solution of global climate challenge, it is targeted that solar windows and walls could be the next trend of property developments that they could opt for.
This is one innovation trajectory that natural resource-restrained Singapore has been pushing for, and if it could be proven successful, it is willing to share this capability to its neighbors in Southeast Asia as well as with the world.
Global energy innovators and industry players concur with this goal – with a number of technology experiments now advancing when it comes to harnessing solar energy from the windows of homes and buildings – while also putting emphasis on sustaining convenience as well as warranted aesthetics (like transparent solar windows) to drive up appetite on such energy installations.
Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chung Sing admitted that the lion-state had not been blessed with other natural resources such as geothermal and wind to meet the country’s long-term energy demand, hence, the energy pathway for them is to continually innovate on technology application and utilization.
He said solar is one resource that their country can tap into to satisfy their quest for sustainable energy solutions for the next 50 years – but since the country also has hurdles on overcast skies 80-percent of the time as well as space constraints, it will only make sense for them to increase targeted solar installations if they could utilize solar window panels and prospectively walls aside from the rooftop solutions that are now flourishing in real property developments.
“If tomorrow the efficiency of the solar panel can also improve to include vertical surfaces – if every one of our high-rise buildings – the walls and even the windows become solar collectors, it will fundamentally change how much solar energy Singapore can generate for our domestic supply,” Chan said.
This city-state has very modest target of installing 2,000-megawatt peak (MWp) of solar until year 2030, given the impediments that it faces on the resource’s irradiation level as well as efficiency on technology deployment, hence, he noted that both horizontal and vertical utilizations of solar will help them improve such course of their energy destiny.
“Today, the solar panel energy collection efficiency is still pretty low. For most conventional panels, the efficiency is between 15 to 20-percent. The question is: Can we increase the efficiency beyond 25 percent? If there is breakthrough in this, then the amount of solar energy that can be collected with the same surface area will be very different,” Chan expounded.
It has been reiterated that solar windows are already gaining momentum – and this is seen as the next “big thing” beyond the traditional rooftop and ground-mounted solar panels that will soon redefine solar markets.
In the Philippines, this development trend of installing solar windows and walls is also seen ideal – primarily in many of its high rise condominium-swamped communities as well as in its business districts.