IPF installs first transparent solar panels on campus

A row of transparent panes of glass installed above entrance doors.

August 25, 2021

The Biomedical and Physical Sciences Building on the campus of Michigan State University received a first-of-its-kind upgrade with the installation of transparent solar glass panels. The 100 square feet of transparent solar glass installed above the building’s entryway will generate enough electricity to power lighting in its atrium.

Similar to rooftop solar panels, the solar-harvesting system converts sunlight into electricity. However, the transparent solar panels are unique in that they let visible light pass through while picking up just the invisible wavelengths of sunlight in the ultraviolet and the near-infrared to convert into electricity. Once installed, the panels are visibly indistinguishable from traditional windows.

A man in a grey t-shirt works on wiring for the transparent panels.
IPF electrician Aaron Torok (left) and glazier Chad Stowe (right) wire the newly installed solar panels. NICK SCHRADER/IPF
A man in an orange baseball cap carries a transparent pane to be installed.
David Robertson, IPF glazier, carries a solar panel to be installed at the Biomedical and Physical Sciences building. NICK SCHRADER/IPF
A welder wearing protective gear works on the metal frame for the solar panels.
Welder Dale Schmitt constructs the metal frame that holds the transparent solar panels. NICK SCHRADER/IPF

“Spartans being leaders and world-changers isn’t just about our students, faculty and staff, it is also about how we manage our campuses,” said Dan Bollman, MSU vice president for Strategic Infrastructure Planning and Facilities. “We are always looking for energy practices that minimize environmental strain. Being able to pioneer installation of a transformative renewable energy technology puts us on the leading edge of making a global impact.”

Read the full article on MSUToday.