Heating and cooling in buildings and industry accounts for half of the EU’s energy consumption. Cities harnessing the power of renewable energy can help drastically reduce dependency on fossil fuels and combat climate change. Funded by the EU under the SME instrument phase 1 scheme, the innovative project SolarGaps unveiled the world-first power-generating blinds, bringing solar energy generation to the city. The new smart blind solution generates solar electricity while shading the windows. This can drive profound changes in cities, saving up to 70 % monthly on the electricity bill of apartments and buildings. “SolarGaps is the only solar company that targets 70 % of the world population, namely people who live in cities,” notes Iryna Savytska, head of business development in SolarGaps. No roof, no problem The need for renewable resources is continuously growing as a way to lower the levels of greenhouse gas emissions and reduce energy costs. Many renewable energy technologies are rising in popularity across the globe lately, but the option of integrating solar power into homes seems second to none. Until now, the main method of harnessing solar power has been through solar panels, but not everyone has access to this. SolarGaps’ technological advancement has made it possible for apartment buildings to harness solar energy without having to put panels on the roof. The new smart blind can be mounted outside windows to provide a natural shading effect and generate electricity. Windows themselves do not need to be altered to accommodate a SolarGaps device. “The new smart window blinds remove the need for expensive rooftop installations and use instead the vertical space offered by the façades of buildings to capture solar energy, thereby offering a cost-efficient power option for home owners and renters,” notes Savytska. “Unlike a standard photovoltaic panel, our technology can generate energy and maintain efficiency for longer,” adds Savytska. The solar blinds can be controlled via a smartphone application. The application allows users to change the angle of the blinds and check out how much energy they are generating. The blinds can also be integrated into home automation systems and automatically open whenever a person enters the room. Offering all these benefits of solar power at home, these smart window blinds can become a mainstay on the energy generation map. On to the next phase SolarGaps continues its vigorous work to improve the software and firmware of its smart window blinds so that they will be capable of withstanding global competition when new players enter this market. Technology has reached TRL 7 and is nearing the readiness level for mass production. “The biggest challenge is to harmonise the amount of investments we attract with the amount of sales we need to generate before we move on to full-scale production,” notes Savytska. The innovation is already patented and work continues to get their product even more protected. In 2018, the company was listed amongst the top 12 most innovative hardware start-ups at the Global Stage for Innovation (CES) 2018. “We believe that paying for energy could soon become a thing of the past. Our product should help homes go entirely off grid one day and generate all the electricity we need for free,” notes Savytska.
SolarGaps, electricity, window blinds, homes, solar energy, solar power