On Monday, 19th April 2021, the world’s first clear solar glass greenhouse was opened in Perth, Western Australia. The greenhouse is on-location at Murdoch University in Perth’s south; part of the University’s new $7.5 million grains research project. We’ve looked at some of the amazing ways solar is being used in the past and this one is also nothing short of amazing! So, let’s look at it in a bit more detail.
The solar glass itself has been developed by ClearVue Technologies, which is an Australian company that is committed to playing a big role in a future powered by renewable energy. Their main product is energy-efficient glass that generates electricity… thus, the name solar glass. Seems like an amazing place to start, right? The Perth-based outfit leads the way in building-integrated photovoltaics. Let’s break that down.
Building-integrated photovoltaics is the use of solar technology in normal, everyday building materials. In other words, they’re essentially building materials that harness solar energy. This includes things like windows, tiles and glass. In this case, we’re looking at glass. One of the ways ClearVue is using solar technology in glass is through what they call glazing; allowing energy to be generated from the glass without affecting its transparency. ClearVue calls this an integrated glazing unit (or IGU if you like a good acronym).
So… back to the solar glass greenhouse
It’s expected to generate enough energy to power around 12 average Aussie households. Get an inside look at the greenhouse by watching the video above! The technology itself works to let in sunlight (as is the case with a normal greenhouse) but also to convert ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) light into energy that helps power the greenhouse itself. This is because too much UV and/or IR light can damage plants and their cells.
As a result, plants don’t need to worry so much about protecting themselves from the sun and can put all their energy into growing. This one’s for the agriculturalists and botanists; ClearVue’s solar glass is expected to help plants grow at a rate of about 20-30% higher than in standard greenhouses! How good?
Has ClearVue used solar glass for anything else?
This is not the first time that ClearVue has used its solar glass in Perth. In 2018, it was announced that the company would start using the technology on bus shelters and street signs. Additionally, in 2019, ClearVue’s solar glass was used in an atrium at Warwick Grove Shopping Centre, north of Perth. The IGUs power the indoor lighting, outdoor signage, and display screens at the shopping centre.
So, if you’re in Perth… go check out the solar glass greenhouse at Murdoch University or the atrium at Warwick Grove Shopping Centre. If you drop in at either, make sure you share your pics with us on social media! In the meantime, keep an eye out for more solar glass developments!