In an example of decentralization all the way down the line, a building-integrated solar PV (BIPV) firm in the UK has launched a crowdfunding programme with the aim of accelerating its sales and manufacturing. 

Cambridge-based Polysolar, which manufactures transparent PV panels or ‘solar glass’, launched the funding scheme on online investment platform CrowdCube this week. 

The firm says its technology is “the first truly transparent alternative to solar panels, generating renewable energy without spoiling building aesthetics”. And it added that while a typical BIPV panel costs around double the price of a conventional glass window, volume production of its own panels could bring the price to just 10 per cent higher than plain glass.  

The firm hopes to raise £750,000 ($1,005,300) on CrowdCube. 

According to Polysolar, a typical 1200 mm x 600 m Polysolar glass panel can generate 5 kWh per month. If London’s Shard glass skyscraper was fitted with solar glass, the company said, it could generate around 2500 MWh per year.

Polysolar’s installations to date include the UK’s first PV-powered glass bus shelter, petrol station canopies for supermarket giant Sainsbury’s and building facades and roofing for Network Rail, as well as domestic carports, conservatories and greenhouses.

CEO Hamish Watson said the company was “delighted to be launching our crowd funding programme to accelerate the growth of our company.  We’ve invested over £1.5m to get where we are today and we now have a commercial product, a huge potential market and an opportunity to make a contribution to saving our planet.”

According to Polysolar, the market opportunity for BIPV could amount to $26bn by 2022.