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Company develops window technology that can create energy from ultra-low and invisible light: 'Opens the door to a new era of power generation'

The invention could supplant some of the energy generated by bulky rooftop solar panels.

The invention could supplant some of the energy generated by bulky rooftop solar panels.

Photo Credit: InQs

A company from Japan has an innovation that can turn our window panes into solar-energy catchers that can wrangle power from low and invisible light. 

InQs' experts showcased the tech at the Consumer Electronics Show early this year in Las Vegas. 

The invention uses glass that can utilize indoor and residual light and could supplant some of the energy generated by bulky rooftop solar panels. And unlike its common roof-based counterpart, the innovation reportedly doesn't need rare and costly metals. 

What's more, the glass can be "safely disposed of" at the end of its lifespan — a concern for most solar system tech, per a report from CNET. 

"The product itself inside, everything in here is made of very, very easy-to-find materials," inQs Chief International Officer Rike Wootten told the online publication. 

Using windows to harvest light energy isn't entirely new. The tech is generally expected to complement rooftop systems, though. 

Researchers working on another type of window project have so far obtained around a 10% efficiency, CNET reports. By comparison, typical solar panels can operate with up to a 22% efficiency rate or more, with breakthroughs regularly announced that have the potential to improve performance, further transforming our energy system. 

Windows could perhaps power nearby lamps or automated blinds in homes. A skyscraper loaded with them could feasibly provide electricity for break rooms and printers. However, they would need to be wired into structures, which could be a deterrent for some people considering the option, all per CNET. 

InQs is adding a unique product to the abundance of inventions in the solar sector, but details on how the tech works are a little light. 

The company's website bills the glass as colorless and transparent, providing power generation, lighting, and heat shielding. A fact sheet says the tech can be installed as an inner pane, making retrofits in windows and even tabletops easy. The power can be stored in a battery for later use. It's all made without the use of "harmful chemicals.". 

The fact sheet touts a 40% savings in heating and cooling costs, as well. 

CNET's Jon Reed, who saw the tech at the Vegas show, has perhaps the best description of its ability. 

"The key to transparent solar tech is that it doesn't capture the energy from the visible light spectrum. Generally, that means it harnesses ultraviolet and infrared light, allowing the rest to pass through," he wrote

If inQs' glass can reliably capture low light, it could provide a solar option that will work mostly anywhere. But it might be a while before the glass arrives stateside. CNET reports that inQs is making the windows in Tokyo, and the product isn't available outside of Japan. 

For its part, the inQs team seems bullish on the invention. 

It "opens the door to a new era of power generation," the company website states

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