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Solar skyscrapers and solar phones: This new tech is transforming the energy industry

Kitco News

(Kitco News)Any transparent surface can be made into a solar panel, said Susan Stone, CEO of Ubiquitous Energy, a California-based company doing exactly that. Ubiquitous' transparent solar panels can be installed as windows, car surfaces, or even on a smartphone as supplementary power.

"We can put [our tech] in the screen of your iPad or in the screen of your iPhone," she said. "This is really about contributing and extending your device's battery life. Each device can be a contributor to its own energy needs."

Stone spoke with David Lin, Anchor and Producer at Kitco News, at the Collision 2022 Conference in Toronto.

Solar windows

The Biden administration recently stated a goal of 50 percent of the United States's electricity to be solar powered by 2050. Stone said that this requires thinking differently about "how we deploy solar technology."

Ubiquitous Energy's solar panels can function as both windows and sources of power.

"We make transparent solar," said Stone. "We harvest only the sunlight that your eyes can't see. And that allows us to make solar that is virtually invisibleā€¦ All of our homes have windows. Why not use that surface to also harvest electricity?"

She added that Ubiquitous Energy's technology can "offset up to 30 percent of a building's energy use" through its windows.

"You don't have to change anything that you do," she said. "Your house will look the same. These big, beautiful skyscrapers will look the same. We've just accessed a surface that was passive before, and we've turned it into a solar asset."

Supply Chain Issues

U.S. power companies face supply-chain issues this summer, as parts and equipment are in short supply. Stone said that Ubiquitous Energy has been "lucky so far" not to be affected by limited supply.

She also said that her company would not be affected by low availability of materials like cobalt, lithium, and silver.

"We use organic materials," Stone explained. "They're carbon based, very similar to the dyes used in your clothing. There are no rare earth minerals. Nothing toxic. If you were to put [our solar panels] into the recycling furnace, the way that glass is typically recycled, our materials just burn off."

Stone said that the materials used in Ubiquitous's solar panels are a "secret sauce."

To find out more applications of Ubiquitous's technology, watch the above video.

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