Sharp has announced an unusual photovoltaic panel for the Japanese market that collects energy from the sun while still allowing the light to shine on through. Though it's rated at a lowly 6.8 percent / 98 watt max efficiency, the glass-like properties make it useful as a construction material (as shown in the balcony railing above), with the semi-transparent nature giving occupants privacy, to boot. The energy-producing cells are embedded in a laminated glass structure and an air slot provides a thermal barrier, allowing the panels to also be used as "windows, curtain wall and eaves" according to Sharp's PR. Though the system won't win any potency prizes, it has garnered a design award in Japan, so it won't blight any landscapes. There's no mention of pricing or western availability so far, but you can hit the source for all the technical details.
Sharp unveils semi-transparent solar panels, lets you see the sun while reaping its benefits
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