The smart window developed by the Milan-Bicocca University is worth a million euros. This is the amount invested by Glass to Power, a spin-off of the University of Milan. A real success of innovation in the academic field that represents one of the most important investments ever made in Italy to acquire a family of patents developed as part of the activity of a public university. All this less than five years after the first research data developed by Professors Sergio Brovelli and Francesco Meinardi of the Department of Materials Science (2014) and less than two years after the establishment of Glass to Power in September 2016, with the aim of starting a real commercialization phase at the beginning of 2019. The technology used in the window is LSC – Luminescent Solar Concentrator, which uses nanocrystals inserted in plexiglass sheets. Nanocrystals convert sunlight into infrared rays that are reflected inside the panel until they reach the edge of the panel itself. Here a thin strip of silicon photovoltaic cells converts infrared photons into electrical current with high efficiency. Energy flows invisibly from the transparent windows of homes, offices and shopping centers, directly to the storage systems or for immediate use by any user.
According to the 2017 Agi-Censis Report, “The culture of Innovation”, the most important answers to confront the complex challenge of sustainability and the decarbonisation of the economy will come from innovation. In regards to this, according to the data contained in this report, among the infrastructures that are most appreciated by Italians, we can find photovoltaic parks with a percentage of 82.4%, high-speed railway stations (76.4%), and wind farms (73.3%). While among those that are the least appreciated, in the first place are oil refineries with the 77%, followed by the coal-fired power plants (76.5%) and chemical or metal-mechanical plants (63%). There is therefore confidence in new technologies and new discoveries: the 65.6% of Italians are deeply convinced that we will all become producers of energy, thus generating a “smart-grid” scenario, in which it will no longer be only consumption to unite us, but also production. The 57.6% of the respondents stated that they were confident that, thanks to innovation, we would soon have all the energy that we need without significant impacts on the environment. There is a deep and widespread conviction that over the next thirty years we will witness and participate in profound changes in the energy scenarios: according to some people, it will be a manageable change, while according to others, this change will be predominant in regards to energy resources and it will give rise to an increase in social gaps.