Architecture / Renewable Energy

Oxford Photovoltaics: a technology that could be the future of solar panels

Photovoltaic Glass

Image courtesy of Oxford Photovoltaics

A week or so ago I went to speak to Kevin Arthur at Begbroke Science Park in Oxford. Along with his colleague Dr Henry Snaith, who developed the technology, he is set to begin a business selling a new type of solar technology. Thanks to a recent amount by the early stage technology investment company MTI the realisation of this project is nearer than before.

The research that Oxford Photovoltaics is marketing is in simplest terms is a layer of solar cells a few microns thick which can be layered on top of ordinary glass. These cells are dye sensitised and can be coloured with different pigments although as Mr Arthur explained to me different colours of dye have different efficiencies.

The reason that this particular technology is a contender to revolutionise the way that we generate solar energy is that with this technology buildings can be constructed with the photovoltaic glass already present and therefore only a small amount of incremental cost is added. Also due to the fact that the glass can be quite attractive and can be installed into the building in a way that complements the overall architecture will most likely be a big selling product for this company.

Although not on the market yet, now with the investment of £2m from the company MTI, more equipment and staff has moved the enterprise forward and will enable the building of another manufacturing facility. In a follow up interview with David Ward Managing partner at MTI he explains to me the reasons for their interest in Oxford Photovoltaics.

Text and audio editing by Olivia

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2 thoughts on “Oxford Photovoltaics: a technology that could be the future of solar panels

  1. Solar panels convert light energy into electrical energy with the photovoltaic process. They work best when perpendicular to the incoming sunlight and with no clouds in bright sunlight. They will work at reduced efficiency if there are clouds or rain, but as long as its not dark, they will still produce “some” electricity.. . That is one of the real problems with solar energy, as we expect to have electricity available on demand, regardless of day/night cycles and atmospheric conditions. Storing electricity is very inefficient, so we need hydro, nuclear,or fossil fuel energy to provide firm “on demand” energy as a base load.

    • You make a very good point – it is important for us to use a combination of renewable energy to meet our energy demands. However, it is also important for us to lower our dependance on fossil fuel energy, as it is not sustainable. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

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