Once restricted to space stations and satellites, photovoltaics are now gaining popularity and becoming an increasingly viable option. Every day, the sun releases an enormous amount of energy, far more than the entire population consumes. Being that the sun is a sustainable, renewable, and inexhaustible source for generating electricity, not using it seems almost counter-intuitive, especially considering the social and environmental impacts of other forms of energy generation. But the technology to create electricity from the sun is by no means simple and still has some limitations, the most significant being price. The following article attempts to explain some basic concepts about this process, and to highlight important considerations for designing a solar energy system.
Solar Energy: The Latest Architecture and News
Located in Trondheim, Norway, Powerhouse Brattørkaia, the world’s northernmost energy-positive building, designed by Snøhetta challenges the traditional notions of construction and puts in place new standards for buildings that produce more energy than they consume.
Rwanda’s largest publicly funded project, Bugesera International Airport is on track to be the first certified green building in the region. A few pieces of this net zero emission complex include: a 30,000 square metre passenger terminal, 22 check-in counters, ten gates, and six passenger boarding bridges. Funded by Public Private Partnership, the project is cost estimated at $414 million USD. The international hub was only one of several initiatives discussed by the Africa Green Growth Forum (AGGF) in Kigali at the end of last year.
The California Building Standards Commission has approved a new rule starting in 2020 that requires all new homes built in the state to include solar panels. As the first of its kind in the United States, the new rule includes an incentive for homeowners to add a high-capacity battery to their electrical system. The move hopes to help meet the state's goal of sharply reducing greenhouse gas emissions while drawing all electricity from renewable energy sources.
Patinated copper, also called oxidized, is a metal coat that "ages well" with excellent weathering resistance. Due to its capacity for transformation over time, when coming into contact with atmospheric conditions, the material does not require major maintenance, giving a unique aspect to the facades.
In addition to orange-colored plates, this material also gives off a blue / green appearance through a controlled chemical oxidation process. Its coloration is defined by the amount of crystals contained in the surface of the material. With the appearance of natural light, the panels display various shades and nuances of color.
The University of British Columbia's Bacteria-Driven Solar Cell Can Produce Energy Under Cloudy Skies
Hailed as a “cheap, sustainable” method of renewable energy extraction, the cell can generate a current stronger than any previously recorded from similar devices. Development of the cell opens new possibilities for typically-overcast regions such as British Columbia and Northern Europe, where the world's first solar panel road debuted in France.
For the "Imagine Angers" international design competition, Vincent Callebaut Architectures worked in collaboration with Bouygues Immobilier group to submit a proposal for the French city at the intersection of social and technological innovation, with a focus on ecology and hospitality. Named Arboricole, meaning “tree” and “cultivation,” this live-work-play environment gives back as much to the environment as it does its users. Although WY-TO prevailed in the competition, the Callebaut scheme succeeded in winning the public vote.
A new challenger has stepped into the ring of home solar batteries, and it’s a name you may recognize: global furniture retailer IKEA.
A competitor to Tesla’s now-available Powerwall home battery and solar roof system, IKEA’s home battery will be first sold in the UK, where owners of solar-powered homes can typically only sell excess energy produced back to the national grid at a loss. The battery pack will instead allow that power to be stored for later use, helping homeowners reduce their electricity bills by as much as 70 percent.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has announced via Twitter that his company’s fully-integrated solar roof system is nearly ready to be released to the public, and will begin taking orders on the shingles starting next month.
The solar roof project was announced this past October after acquiring energy services provider SolarCity for $2.1 billion. Offered in four different styles – smooth glass, textured glass, French slate and Tuscan glass – the shingles would allow homeowners to make the switch to solar without having to change their aesthetic tastes. Though exact costs have yet to be released, Musk believes the system could be more affordable than a traditional roof.
Tesla has completed a massive, 55,000-panel solar farm on the Hawaiian island of Kauai that will allow them to experiment with medium-term energy storage at a utility scale. Hooked up to the farm are 272 of the company’s lithium Powerpacks, which are capable of storing of combined 52 megawatt-hours of power.
5 Techniques to Incorporate Solar Panels into Your Architecture Beautifully (Not as an Ugly Afterthought)
This article was originally published by Autodesk's Redshift publication as "5 Ways to Design Solar Architecture Beautifully—Not as an Ugly Afterthought."
No one puts solar panels on their house because they’re sexy—at least, not yet.
Jon Gardzelewski, an architect and associate lecturer at the University of Wyoming in the Building Energy Research Group (UW-BERG), wants to change that. He believes the fact that solar panels are usually an afterthought to the design of a building is a big barrier to integrating them into a critical mass of houses and buildings.
The world’s first solar panel road has officially opened in a small village in Normandy, France.
Built in the small village of Tourouvre-au-Perche, the 1 kilometer route, dubbed the “Wattway,” is covered in 2,800 square meters of photovoltaic panels. It is designed to be used by up to 2,000 motorists per day, while providing an average of 767 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per day, enough energy to power all of the street lighting in the 3,400-resident village.
Elon Musk has revealed his company Tesla’s latest world-changing innovation: a solar roof system so fully integrated into a home’s architecture as to be indistinguishable from a traditional roof.
Peddle Thorp Architects have submitted their proposal for the Moray Street Residential Tower in Melbourne for approval. At 1173.5 square meters, Sol Invictus is wrapped entirely in solar panels, attaining 10 times more solar surface area than a traditional roof covering. The facade can achieve up to 5000 square meters of solar panel array and is connected to a battery storage system.
London-based design firm Caventou has designed a series of “stained glass” everyday objects that turn daylight into electricity, even indoors.
Integrated with solar cells, Current Table and Current Window are both independent, intelligent power sources that function normally as household items.
Solar energy is considered by many to be the future of electricity worldwide. Cities from Houston to Mumbai are embracing massive rooftop and rural solar infrastructure, a largely standardized system of fixed panels positioned to optimize sun intake at peak times. Only the most sophisticated adjustable panels which track the sun, however, are capable of absorbing the maximum amount of daylight allowed by the technology, meaning that the average immovable panel loses a significant amount of available energy.
Researchers at the University of Michigan sought to develop a solar energy system that could absorb the most daylight possible while reducing the carbon footprint from production of the panels themselves. The results are surprisingly beautiful: through the application of the ancient Japanese art of Kirigami, a variation of Origami, the researchers were able to capture up to 40 percent more sunlight than traditional panels.
Texas and clean energy are hardly considered synonymous. However, as uncovered by a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Texas has emerged as an unexpected leader in solar power, with $1 billion now being invested in solar energy infrastructure with an aim to produce up to 12,500 megawatts of solar electricity by 2029. To mark this important moment in US energy production, the New Jersey Institute of Technology has produced this infographic revealing the benefits (and drawbacks) of solar energy for the average American consumer, including everything from the history of solar energy to incentives available for solar systems nationwide. Read on to view the infographic in full.
The Solar Bytes pavilion, designed by assistant professor at Kent State University Brian Peters, is a temporary structure which highlights the potential of new techniques available to architecture: robotic arms, 3D printing, smart technologies such as lighting sensors, and solar energy.
Leveraging the strength and range of motion of a robotic arm, the pavilion was printed in three dimensions with an experimental extruder, resulting in a structure composed of 94 unique modules that capture energy during the day, and shine at night. After their initial function, the plastic modules making up the pavilion will be completely crushed and reused in a new structure.