A ground-breaking development that seeks to transform the way we harness solar energy has earned Lewis Osikibo Tamuno-Ibuomi, a PhD student at Glasgow Caledonian University, a spot as a finalist for the 2023 Institution of Engineering and Technology Excellence and Innovation Awards.

His innovative work centres around optimising optical concentrators for solar windows, which he hopes will usher in a new era of sustainable and economical clean energy solutions.

Lewis’s visionary concept revolves around the idea of integrating transparent solar panels into south-facing double-glazed windows, such as those found in Glasgow and other urban environments.

He said: “Imagine, if you will, every sunlit window in the city being equipped with the ability to capture and convert sunlight into electricity, all while blending seamlessly into the architectural landscape. This concept not only holds immense promise for reducing greenhouse gas emissions but also for enhancing energy efficiency and promoting the transition to a net-zero emissions future.”

However, his ambitious vision extends beyond windows. Lewis’s innovative design is adaptable for use across entire building envelopes, encompassing roofs and facades. By incorporating this technology into construction materials, it has the potential to offset building costs while significantly contributing to energy efficiency in structures. The ultimate goal, Lewis says, is to drive sustainability in a manner that is both environmentally responsible and economically feasible.

Lewis’s creation takes the form of a 3-Dimensional hexagonal optical concentrator.

He said: “This design was developed entirely from scratch, providing a solution that enhances the packing density of solar panels and reduces the overall embodied energy required for building-integrated concentrating solar photovoltaic systems. In essence, this innovation enables a more efficient and cost-effective means of generating clean and affordable energy from the sun.”

Lewis was assisted by a supervisory team of Dr Roberto Ramirez-Iniguez (Director of studies) and Professor A Sheila Smith.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony to be held on November 15 at Glasgow SECC.