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Toledo Solar Investing in Technology That Turns Windows into Solar Panels

The company is matching a nearly $9 million federal grant with $10 million of its own to bring the product to market in 12-18 months.

PERRYSBURG, Ohio — A Toledo solar company is investing millions of dollars in technology that turns windows into renewable energy sources.

“Of course this is Glass City, USA, so everything we sort of think about here in the solar business is really about the glass business,” said Aaron Bates, CEO of Toledo Solar in Perrysburg.

But what do glass and solar have to do with one another? Bates says his company is working on technology that allows the two to create energy by turning windows into solar panels. 

“Now we can have glass that’s generating power and clean energy,” Bates said. “It’s passive energy, right? Buildings generally have to have windows. Automobiles have to have glass. So now it becomes basically a better benefit of just having glass.”

Bates says Toledo Solar is matching a federal grant of $8.8 million with another $10 million on the technology. Toledo Solar will work with the University of Toledo, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Alpen HPP to accelerate commercialization of the product, which is expected to go to market within a year and a half. 

Bates says it means the company is expected to go from about 55 employees to as many as 300 in the next five years. 

“Eventually when we’re manufacturing this product, it’ll be hundreds of jobs because it’s now an entire industry of manufacturing not just solar panels, but new products for new markets,” Bates said.

Toledo Solar is one of only two companies that manufactures solar panels domestically. The other is First Solar, which is headquartered in Tempe, Ariz., but owns major manufacturing facilities in Perrysburg and Walbridge. 

Bates says you don’t need the sun of southern California to create sustainable energy and the tint of this new glass technology will assist the sun in harnessing power, while still being able to see through it.

“When you’re in your building or people are in the hospital or working, they’ll just see windows,” Bates said. “Having energy generation from glass will just become part of what people maybe even take for granted and I think that’s a good thing.”

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