Shaping big city skylines all over the world, skyscrapers typically draw their power from the traditional carbon fuel grid, contributing to carbon emissions and adding to air pollution in major metropolises. Matthew Stone, NextGen Nano’s Chairman, recently discussed the potential application of organic photovoltaic (OPV) cells within high-rise buildings, outlining their potential to provide cleaner and more sustainable energy.

The United Nations predicts that, by 2050, the world’s urban population will increase from 3.6 billion to approximately 6.3 billion. With more and more people moving from small, rural villages to sprawling metropolises, skyscrapers are not just aesthetically pleasing; they are vital in terms of providing sufficient space in which to live and work.

Whether used for commercial or residential purposes, skyscrapers must accommodate vast numbers of people. They place a huge demand on energy sources. One study revealed that, in terms of electricity requirements, high-rise office buildings require more than twice as much electricity per square metre of floor area than low-rise office buildings, with gas heating in skyscrapers 40 per cent higher than normal buildings, effectively doubling carbon emissions.

In terms of maintaining temperature, skyscrapers are not particularly energy efficient. In cold weather, glass skyscrapers leak heat. In summer, they require air conditioning, creating 60 per cent more carbon emissions than offices relying on natural ventilation.

One of the best solutions is incorporating building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPVs) in the skyscrapers’ construction. BIPVs are used in place of traditional building materials in parts of the building envelope — such as facades, skylights and roofs — to generate electricity. BIPVs are increasingly incorporated in the construction of new buildings since they not only produce energy, but their integration also reduces construction material demands and labour costs.

There are four main categories of BIPV products. BIPVs do not rely on carbon fuels or polluting materials to generate energy, although many are produced using environmentally damaging materials, with the exception of panels consisting of organic PV (OPV) cells.

Until recently, in comparison with other BIPVs, OPVs typically offered decreased power efficiencies. Nevertheless, recent breakthroughs achieved by pioneering nanotechnology specialist NextGen Nano have paved the way for increased OPV efficiency. Leading the race to develop next generation organic solar cells through the integration of advanced nanotechnology, NextGen Nano is developing energy-efficient and flexible organic solar cells, facilitating decentralisation of the energy industry on a global scale.

NextGen Nano’s PolyPower range exhibits significantly improved efficiency in comparison with third-generation solar technologies. Made using environmentally friendly organic materials, PolyPower panels are lightweight, dynamic and affordable. Developed at a nano level with impressive flexibility and transparency, this revolutionary semi-transparent thin layer has the potential to be applied to the surface of skyscraper windows, where it could be used to generate power and light and control temperature.

Led by a management team that includes Director of Operations Duncan Clark, NextGen Nano’s recent accomplishments could prove a pivotal moment in high-rise engineering, ensuring that skyscrapers are not only practical and aesthetically beautiful, but sustainable and environmentally friendly. NextGen Nano’s ground-breaking PolyPower technology has the potential to facilitate significant reductions in carbon emissions before 2050, providing a much-needed breath of fresh air for all of the world’s major cities.