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Solar panels to be integrated with concrete building façades for 'green buildings'

Thu, 02/23/2012 - 6:24am
ECN Europe

Solar panel specialist Heliatek has signed a joint development agreement with Reckli, a manufacturer of elastic moulds for concrete building façades. This will enable vertical concrete walls of buildings to become highly efficient solar energy harvesters by integrating Heliatek’s organic solar panels directly onto concrete façade blocks. This new Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) solution will combine energy harvesting to reduce a building’s carbon footprint with a discrete, aesthetically pleasing, visual appearance.

One major problem with conventional solar panels is that their efficiency drops off with every degree in temperature gained. The efficiency of Heliatek’s organic photovoltaic modules remains constant up to 80 °C. This is also the reason why Heliatek’s panels can be integrated onto the concrete without any need for ventilation.

If the light intensity decreases, the efficiency of conventional solar panels decreases. Heliatek’s panels are consistently efficient from full sun down to a tenth of full sun. Heliatek estimates that, under real world conditions, the combination of these two factors – temperature independence and superior low light performance – will increase the specific annual harvesting yield of its panels by 10-20 % compared to conventional solar panels, depending on the location and orientation of the PV façade system.

Architecturally, the new Heliatek and RECKLI solar concrete façade will offer several advantages. The solar cells are deposited on a thin, flexible, lightweight plastic sheet so that there are no safety issues unlike with glass modules, which require very secure handling and installation, so that they do not fall. At only 0.5 kilograms per square meter, compared to conventional panels at 10 to 15 kilograms per square meter, structural support issues are minimized. Aesthetically, the BIPV modules can be added to a building’s façade in non-intrusive ways and will be available in a variety of colors and dimensions to enable the architect to be creative with the external appearance of the building.

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