AOL Energy recently interviewed John Conklin, president and CEO of New Energy Technologies, Inc. that has just developed a newly enhanced solar spray that can be used to create transparent photovoltaic films for windows.

AOL Energy: Can you explain the technology the spray-on mechanism relies on?

John Conklin: SolarWindow is the first transparent coating created to capture energy on windows; similar products have been opaque. The sprayed-on fluid would gather energy both from the sun and artificial lighting. Optimize the application of the active layer coatings which make it possible for SolarWindow to generate electricity on glass surfaces. Increasing the size of the active layer in SolarWindow is one of the important keys to increasing the size of the final commercial product.

AOL Energy: Why windows? What is the opportunity with that as opposed to opaque solar panels?

John Conklin: We believe that a significant market opportunity exists for our SolarWindow™ Technology, which enables transparent see-through glass windows to generate electricity by applying electricity-generating coatings to their coating their glass surfaces with the world’s smallest known solar cells. Rising energy costs, increasing electricity consumption, and the need for a cleaner alternative to today’s non-renewable energy sources, all contribute to the growing demand for clean, renewable alternative energy sources.

Global energy consumption is expected to double from 2003 to 2030, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), and domestic electricity prices have been rising as a consequence of the cost of conventional fuels for electricity generation and looser pricing caps in some states.

America is the world’s largest consumer of electricity, according to the EIA, with nearly 70% of the nation’s electricity generated by coal and natural gas. The environmental impact and rising costs of these non-renewable fuels, along with the potential doubling of global electricity consumption in the coming years, illustrate the need for more creative, sustainable methods for generating electrical power.

We believe that the commercial opportunity to install transparent see-thru glass windows capable of generating electricity in homes and commercial buildings is significant. There are nearly 5 million commercial buildings in America, according to the EIA, and more than 80 million single detached homes.

AOL Energy: What other uses might the technology have beyond windows?

John Conklin: Our SolarWindow products are designed to generate electricity on glass while remaining see-thru. We currently have six product development goals for our
SolarWindow technology:

–SolarWindow- Commercial – A flat glass product for installation in new commercial towers under construction and replacement windows;
–SolarWindow-Structural Glass – Structural glass walls and curtains for tall structures;
–SolarWindow-Architectural Glass – Textured and decorative interior glass walls, room dividers, etc.
–SolarWindow-Residential – A window glass for installation in new residential homes under construction and replacement windows;
–SolarWindow-Flex – Flexible films which may be applied directly on to glass, similar to aftermarket window tint films, for retrofit to existing commercial towers, buildings, and residential homes; and
–SolarWindow-BIPV – Building product components associated with building-integrated-photovoltaic (“BIPV”) applications in homes, buildings, and office towers.

Other products may be developed during the commercialization of SolarWindow and the electricity-generating coating.

Breaking Energy: Customer adoption it seems has been the hurdle for most companies in this space. How do you plan on reaching consumers?

John Conklin: One facet of our approach to commercialization relies on on-going research & development. We don’t look at R&D a distraction from commercialization and pure research. We believe the effectiveness in commercialization hinges on R&D, industrial research, and meeting commercial needs. We think of it as our researchers, continuously, think about how consumers will use our (their) products and the importance of how their use may change over time. Considering those important objectives, it’s easy to understand how R&D gains commercial focus.

Importantly, commercialization focuses research on the consumer subjective experience; branding is very important.

Commercialization keeps New Energy Technologies management engaged during R&D, product development, and consumer needs for the duration. Certainly, we’ll experience plenty of other obstacles as we move down the road to commercialization. Our perspective on commercialization is that we can never take our eyes off the ball; never take our eyes of R&D and consumer needs.

Breaking Energy: Federal incentives have been largely supporting solar–what do you see as the role of private sector investment in the solar industry?

John Conklin: It’s important for renewable energy to make a lasting impression and significant contribution to conventional energy markets. It’s also very necessary that part of private sector investment in the conventional energy sector gets diverted to renewable energy technologies. The profitability investment in renewable energy plays a key role in private investments.

Breaking Energy: How do you envision the power grid if your technology is deployed on a large-scale? Is distributed generation of way of the future?

John Conklin: Distributed generation may be powerful and potentially a hedge against grid. It’s very important to not underestimate the requirements for successful distributed electricity generation. For distributed electricity generation to be successful, we must also consider deployment of: complementing technologies (i.e., energy storage technologies and devices, superconducting coils, supercapacitors, etc.); the concept of “energy islands”, smart grid technologies, power quality and reliability; control; environmental impact; economics; and safety.

Above all, the characteristics of grid topology, transmission, loads, reliability, and economics will be key factors associated with determining the technical and economic feasibility of distributed generation.

See Breaking Energy’s previous story on solar paint here, and our story on the use of windows that create solar power generation here.