John A. Conklin is the president and CEO of SolarWindow Technologies, Inc., located in Maryland, USA. Conklin is overseeing the development of one of the world’s leading electricity-generating technologies for glass and flexible plastic that has the promise to turn tall towers and skyscrapers into power generators. Angela McClowry from Cleanleap, recently interviewed John to discuss clean solar PV panels and their role in a cleanleap.
Angela: Could you give us some background information about yourself, and your company SolarWindow?
John: SolarWindow is first and foremost a clean energy company. We are one of the world’s leading electricity-generating technologies for glass and flexible plastics. Our objective is to turn tall towers and skyscrapers into electricity-generators.
Unlike conventional solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, our coatings can be applied to all sides of tall towers, generating electricity using natural and artificial light; and shaded, diffused, and reflected light, and work even in shaded areas.
A pane of glass coated with SolarWindow technology is fabricated by applying our transparent, electricity-generating coatings onto glass surfaces at room temperature and pressure.
Our products, once commercialized, uniquely address a growing market opportunity for technologies able to generate sustainable electricity. Rising energy costs, increasing electricity consumption, and the need for a cleaner alternative to today's non-renewable energy sources, all contribute to the growing demand for clean, renewable alternative energy.
Personally, I bring over 30 years of industrial, commercial, and renewable and alternative energy, and technical and business consulting experience to the company. Throughout my career I have actively managed both the technical and business requirements of various energy and industrial companies.
Angela: What are the biggest opportunities for solar windows to contribute to a Cleanleap? Also do you operate in emerging economies?
John: We believe that the commercial opportunity to install electricity-generating glass windows, on and in commercial buildings, tall towers, and skyscrapers, will transform the way people think of the benefits of solar power today and well into the future.
Many factors are driving the ‘green’ building market: rising energy costs, increasing electricity consumption, heightened awareness and demand for green construction for sustainability and improvements in sustainable materials.
Commercial office buildings, tall towers, and skyscrapers typically have very limited roof-top space required for the installation of conventional solar PV modules.
This limited roof-top space implies the amount of electrical power that can be generated from a small area conventional solar PV array will be inherently low.
The very high surface area that windows occupy provides an opportunity for SolarWindow™ to offset building energy demand and lower overall energy bills for these tall towers, and skyscrapers.
Our goal is to develop affordable SolarWindow™ coatings that can be used around the world, including emerging markets as they become more advanced.
Angela: Is your product applicable in small scale regional environments? If not who is your target market in developing countries?
John: Eventually we would like to see SolarWindow™ coatings in large and small environments.
We envision our technology to be part of the next-generation of skyscrapers, and installed in buildings, providing a source of clean, renewable energy to help meet the world’s growing energy demands.
Moving forward, we have identified numerous product applications for our liquid coatings that are able to generate electricity on both glass and flexible surfaces while remaining transparent. You can expect to hear more about these product plans in the upcoming months.
Image: Dr. Scott Hammond, Principal Scientist, works on SolarWindowTM development
Angela: Are there alternative applications in emerging economies that can utilize the technology? Or is it used just on high rise buildings? Are there other opportunities for a Cleanleap?
John: Alternative uses for SolarWindow Technologies include: Skylights, Architectural Glass, Dynamic Glazing, Smart Buildings, Electronics and Sensors, Automotive, Aircraft, Military, and marine applications. Meanwhile, the skyscraper and tall tower segment is our immediate target market.
Angela: What are some of the risks associated with this technology? Waste disposal, or materials required?
The solar power market is intensely competitive and rapidly evolving. The energy harvesting market is changing and difficult to define.
We also expect that future competition will include new entrants to the solar power market offering new technological solutions.
SolarWindow™ coatings are primarily organic. They’re made mainly from earth abundant compounds like carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen. At this time, we do not anticipate significant waste disposal requirements being imposed on glass or plastic materials with SolarWindow coatings applied. We will, however, evaluate waste disposal requirements as we approach commercialization.
Angela: Can you leave us with something exciting for the growth in this technology? Any news updates or future projects of interest?
The World relies heavily on oil, coal and natural gases for energy and is at a crossroads between climate change and the depletion of natural resources.
We hope technologies such as SolarWindow™ will help manage climate change, and contribute to a greener tomorrow.