Luminescent solar concentrators for building-integrated photovoltaics

Abstract

The transition to fully energetically sustainable architecture through the realization of so-called net zero-energy buildings is currently in progress in areas with low population density. However, this is not yet true in cities, where the cost of land for the installation of ground photovoltaic (PV) is prohibitively high and the rooftop space is too scarce to accommodate the PV modules necessary for sustaining the electrical requirements of tall buildings. Thus, new technologies are being investigated to integrate solar-harvesting devices into building façades in the form of PV windows or envelope elements. Luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs) are the most promising technology for semi-transparent, electrodeless PV glazing systems that can be integrated ‘invisibly’ into the built environment without detrimental effects to the aesthetics of the building or the quality of life of the inhabitants. After 40 years of research, recent breakthroughs in the realization of reabsorption-free emitters with broadband absorption have boosted the performance of LSCs to such a degree that they might be commercialized in the near future. In this Perspective, we explore the successful strategies that have allowed this change of pace, examining and comparing the different types of chromophores and waveguide materials, and discuss the issues that remain to be investigated for further progress.

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Figure 1: Luminescent solar concentration photovoltaic windows and panels.
Figure 2: Types of LSC chromophores and spectral coverage achievable with real emitters.
Figure 3: Performances achievable with different chromophores and waveguide materials.

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F.M. researched data for article, provided substantial contribution to discussion of the content and reviewed and edited the manuscript before submission. F.B. researched data for article. S.B. researched data for article, provided substantial contribution to discussion of the content and wrote, reviewed and edited the manuscript before submission.

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Correspondence to Francesco Meinardi or Sergio Brovelli.

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Meinardi, F., Bruni, F. & Brovelli, S. Luminescent solar concentrators for building-integrated photovoltaics. Nat Rev Mater 2, 17072 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/natrevmats.2017.72

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