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California Energy Commission Awards $3 Million Toward Solar Technology for Commercial Buildings



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The California Energy Commission (CEC) has awarded a $3 million grant toward a technology that transforms commercial windows into solar panels. The CEC chose NEXT Energy Technologies, makers of the technology, to scale-up and demonstrate its glass-coating technology process for fabrication of solar power-generating windows.

The project, “Rapid Innovation Development of Energy Generating Windows for Zero-and Negative-Carbon Emission Buildings,” was awarded to NEXT after the successful demonstration of directly coating its existing proprietary organic semiconducting technology onto large sheets of heat-treated glass. The method will allow for a more seamless application into the window manufacturing process that leads to much higher margins with low capital cost equipment.

Per the program, NEXT will use these funds to produce pilot-sized energy-generating windows and demonstrate its production processes using all pilot production manufacturing methods over the next several months.

A Supply Chain Solution to The Climate Crisis

The photovoltaic coatings are applied to commercial windows during the window fabrication process, integrating with existing manufacturers without disrupting established workflows and supply chains. This business model reduces risks to customers, removes barriers to adoption, and accelerates speed to market, all while creating a high-value product, according to NEXT. This direct integration into traditional commercial window and framing systems effectively extracts costs typically associated with the packaging and installation of solar energy solutions.

Meeting the 2022 Building Energy Efficiency Standards

On August 11, 2021, the CEC adopted the 2022 Building Energy Efficiency Standards (Energy Code) for newly constructed and renovated buildings that will produce benefits to support the state’s public health, climate and clean energy goals.

“The 2022 Energy Code firmly pivots California’s buildings toward the clean, low-carbon technologies that are the bedrock on which our collective path forward will rest. This foundation will help the state meet its critical long-term climate and carbon neutrality goals, said CEC Commissioner, J. Andrew McAllister in a press release.

Among other initiatives, the 2022 Energy Code includes plans to expand solar PV systems and battery storage standards for all California buildings to support the state’s progress toward a 100% clean electricity grid. The Energy Code will be submitted to the California Building Standards Commission (CBSC) and If approved, will go into effect on January 1, 2023.

The first generation of NEXT windows will offset as much as 10-20% of its power needs, and over a 30-year timeframe, such a building would produce about 20 million kWh of clean power, saving an average of $170,000 annually on utility bills and reducing 14,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the equivalent of powering 1,700 homes for an entire year. In the coming years, NEXT windows will be commercially available for window sizes up to 5 ft. x 10 ft (1.5 x 3 meters).

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