Hooray for smart people! This concept has been toyed-with by researchers for a couple of decades, but an Israeli group, Pythagoras Solar, has begun to sell their design that they have been working on the past 4 years.
The benefits to a solar window over the usual panels is that you have a triple-purpose element to your house whereby the sun’s heat is being shielded from entering the house but you are allowing light to enter as it normally would, and with added benefit of generating electricity at the same time. The added natural light means you use less electricity anyway, and the reduction of heat coming through the windows means less burden on insulation and cooling requirements inside the building.
With a financial recoup time of half that of normal solar panels, it’s looking to be a good investment.
As I personally think solar panels are ugly despite the great things they do, this to me seems like a much better option for anyone who likes natural light and to get “off the grid”! Good work Pythagoras!
Here’s an article from SmartPlanet that tells you more about the idea and company behind it.