Solar Energy Power Systems
The world's first energy-efficient ETFE façade installed using printed Organic Photovoltaic
Kitzingen, Germany – The intention was to create an extravagant façade equipped with an OPV system that is appealing not only in terms of functionality but also design. OPVIUS took up this challenge and implemented it as part of the rebuilding work on the premises of Merck KGaA in Darmstadt.
From the very beginning, OPVIUS planned the implementation with an ETFE-based membrane façade. It was intended to demonstrate that printed organic photovoltaics make a fundamental contribution to the generation of energy and, therefore, to the energy efficiency of buildings, especially in combination with membrane architecture. Owing to their low weight and the associated savings in resources, membranes are becoming increasingly important as a roofing and façade material in construction.
However, this is counteracted by the steadily growing demand to put building surfaces - especially roofs - to photovoltaic use. On the other hand, the integration of classic PV and membrane works only to a very limited extent. This challenge can usually be solved by the elimination of lightweight construction and the simultaneous use of classic modules. Nevertheless, the sustainability of such solutions is difficult to assess, as the benefits of PV - in contrast to membrane architecture - are achieved by high use of material in the construction of the building.
In order to overcome this restriction and come up with a suitable solution, OPVIUS and Taiyo Europe joined forces. The ETFE specialist Taiyo Europe has been building high-quality membrane architecture and ETFE structures for decades, setting new aesthetic standards time and again.
The transparent, UV and weather-resistant polymer, ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene), is one of the most respected and valued products in the international field of membrane construction. It is extremely resistant to ageing and very durable and therefore very popular in the area of roofing and façades, especially in large-scale projects, such as stadiums or airports. References include the Chambourcy Mall, the Office of Waste Management in Munich, and the US Embassy in London.
With the solution presented in Darmstadt, the long-standing desire to use photovoltaic energy as an energy-generating technology in membrane constructions has been achieved. OPVIUS shows a fully integrated OPV module, including bonding to ETFE, connection technology, and all system components. In compliance with the technical and design specifications from the field of membrane construction and architecture, an aesthetically as well as a technically high-quality solution for an energy-efficient membrane façade was made available for the first time. This represents a milestone in the field of membrane construction.
The façade and module design was implemented with complete freedom of design, in accordance with the specifications of the client, Merck KGaA, incorporating the company's corporate identity, and with the involvement of the architects and designers. It was possible to implement all design specifications without compromising functionality by the use of OPVIUS manufacturing technology, which is based on a combination of printing, coating and laser technologies.
Using the OPV modules, integrated into the Taiyo colour-printed, translucent ETFE films, it was possible to build an aesthetically appealing and trendsetting façade.
"Today, we are proud to be able to offer this product as an internationally usable product to our partners, architects, designers and draftspersons in the field of façades", states Hermann Issa, Senior Director Business Development and Sales, OPVIUS GmbH. He adds "This enables the formation of entirely new concepts in membrane construction." Mr Peter Kastner, Sales Manager at Taiyo Europe GmbH adds:
"The cooperation between ETFE and OPV was a real meeting of minds. It is an ideal material combination for an original and trendsetting architecture for façades and roofs."
Roll to roll manufactured decorative perovskite solar panels will be 5 times better and 10 times cheaper
Freely designed decorative organic solar panels are applicable also in indoor use to harvest energy from indoor light. Production methods are cost-effective and materials can be recycled after the use. New materials such as perovskite can be printed with same methods and increase efficiency in future.
VTT has proven the feasibility of the method in its own pilot manufacturing unit, using commercially available materials. VTT is commercialising this manufacturing technology with different operators, and is actively seeking new final-stage appliers of the technology.
The research scientists have tested the feasibility of the method by printing leaf-shaped photovoltaic cells. Active surface of a one leaf is 0.0144 m2 and includes connections and a decorative part. Two hundred OPV leaves make one square metre of active solar panel surface that generates 3.2 amperes of electricity with 10.4 watts of power at Mediterranean latitudes.
Flexible OPV cells
Organic solar panels are flexible and light, but their efficiency is lower compared to conventional, rigid silicon-based solar panels.
The solar panels are manufactured with printing machines based on conventional printing methods using the roll-to-roll method, which enables the rapid mass production of the products: the printing machine can produce up to 100 metres of layered film per minute. The manufacturing of the OPV cells is affordable; the material consumption is low, and after use, the OPV panels can be recycled.
The market for organic photovoltaic cells is developing, with a market breakthrough expected within three years. The operating life of panel is few years which is enough for many applications.
Using energy of light in data transfer
VTT is also developing a method to utilize light in wireless data transfer by using solar cells as data receivers. This will open new application possibilities to utilize printable solar cells e.g. in IoT (Internet of Things) type applications, in which the devices can also harvest energy from the ambient light. The first results have been very promising.
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