Embedded solar panels generate 50 times more power than regular solar panels
- Adoption of solar has surged as people look for less emission sources of energy
- Conventional solar panels though are bulky and not pretty to look at
- These new panels can generate more than 50 times the power of a standard rooftop system.
An under-construction building in Australia will be the first to be equipped with a 'solar facade' that will help it generate more power than it needs, New Atlas reported.
With the world looking for means of meeting its energy demands without emitting carbon dioxide, renewables like solar are picking up steam more than ever. Technology adoption rates are on the rise, and companies are also coming up with innovative ways to incorporate the technology into our daily lives without making them stick out like sore thumbs.
For instance, the solar roof from Tesla provides a clean look for your house without having to bother installing standard-sized solar panels. But why limit yourself to the roof, when solar panels can make up the entire facade of your building? That's what Australia-based design studio Kennon plans to do.
The solar facade
When a corner plot in Melbourne city's central business district was up for renewal, the private developer approached the studio. Founder of the studio, Pete Kennon, who was researching glazing products being used in Europe, realized that photovoltaic cells embedded in glass would make for a good facade on the building while supporting its energy requirements.
After the developer was eager to set a precedent in the area, the design for a 'solar facade' got underway, and Kennon had to collaborate with glass panel manufacturers in Germany since nobody made the product in Australia.
Executives from the panel-making company, Avancis, flew down to Australia to help the designers maximize the power generation from the design and it was decided to place the panels on the northern facade.
Going where no Australian building has gone before
There was one major problem, though. The glass planes that Kennon planned to use did not have the necessary approvals from the building appeal board in the country. So, the studio partnered with a local construction fire safety company to test these panels. A replica of the facade was built and set to fire to study how the panels would respond to such an event. The data was carefully recorded and submitted to the competent authority to get the necessary approvals for construction using these panels.
The end result of all this hard work and persistence will be the 550 Spencer, an eight-story building with a north facade consisting of 1,182 solar panels that have the appearance and thickness of regular glass panes but those that function like solar panels.
At its peak, the system is expected to generate 142kWp (kilowatt peak), the energy it can produce on a peak sunny day. This is far greater than the 3-6 kWp standard rooftop solar panel systems generate in a regular household. The massive amount of power that the building will generate will not only be far more than the energy it will consume but will also prevent 78.4 tons (70 tonnes) of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere every year.
Additionally, the rooftop space that solar panels would have occupied can now be used to set up a garden for people who will use this space.
The building is expected to be completed by 2024.
A young engineer called Robert Sansone won the first prize, and winnings of $75,000, at this year's Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), the world's largest international high school STEM competition.