Conservatories and curtains to provide power

Conservatories of the future may not only be credited with saving power in the home but providing energy for it too, if the latest research is taken up commercially.

Architect and professor in practice at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sheila Kennedy, has been developing a means of allowing curtains and fabrics to soak up solar energy to provide power for the home, it has been reported.

Named soft power, Ms Kennedy has been working on a way to capture sunlight with flexible materials such as fabrics for curtains or window blinds, and would like to see the technology implemented in all homes.

Speaking about what she calls soft power, Ms Kennedy said: "The soft power approach says there are some incredibly sensual, compelling, beautiful spaces and products that we can be producing using these emerging energy-harvesting materials.

"These are materials which can be prepared in the chemistry lab or can be found in nature. They produce electricity when exposed to light. They are very efficient and flexible," she said.

The news comes as more researchers from the MIT announce that they have produced a pane of glass capable of absorbing some solar power.

The glass works by sending the light to the edge of the windows, where it can be processed into energy, but with an efficiency of around 6.8 per cent at present, researchers intend to improve its capabilities before letting it on to the market.