Dubai-based Emirates Insolaire will supply about 12,000 solar glass panels to the Copenhagen International School in Denmark, boosting the facility’s production of clean electricity.
Emirates Insolaire produces and distributes colored solar glass and colored PV modules using what is called Kromatix technology. This technology allows solar PV to be integrated into the architectural design of all types of buildings, opening opportunities in terms for building aesthetics coupled with enhanced energy savings.
The company indicates it is expecting sales of 50,000 square meters of solar panels and 10,000 pieces of colored PV modules during 2016. The reason? This particular colored glass can enhance the effectiveness of solar panel.
“KromatixTM patented technology provides colored solar glass for both photovoltaic and thermal solar panels. The KromatixTM technology has been developed in close collaboration with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology [EPFL] and offers the only attractive alternative to the black and dark blue panels, without compromising on the performance, efficiency or architectural designs”
Construction for the school is now underway, with work expected to be completed in June. This project follows a memorandum of understanding signed between UAE and Denmark to boost cooperation in the fields of renewable energy and sustainability.
The solar glass system should produce about 300 MW/h per year, a total which is more than half of the school’s annual electricity consumption
In January this year, Emirates Insolaire presented its Kromatix colored solar panels and photovoltaic modules at the World Future Energy Summit (WFES) in Abu Dhabi. According to the manufacturer, Kromatix modules are capable of generating 170 to 190 watt per square meter for roof or 110 to 130 watt per square meter for facades.
Last year, Emirates Insolaire completed three colored solar installations:
- 12 kW project on the façade of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology’s (EPFL’s) ELL building in Lausanne, Switzerland
- 24 kW BIPV system in Basel, Switzerland
- Solar thermal project in Satteins, Austria
Speaking with pv magazine, Rafic Hanbali said the completed projects demonstrate the advantages of the Emirates Insolaire’s BIPV solutions, such as less demand on horizontal required space.
“The same installed power would have required, if installed only on the ground or on a roof, an area 3 to 4 times larger,” said Hanbali. “This is, in addition to aesthetics, [demonstrates] the considerable advantage of our technology for the cities, which cannot offer enough ground and roof areas for their energy needs.”
Royal College of Art graduate Charlotte Slingsby has developed energy generation system involving sheets of plastic with wave-like filaments.
While the cost of electricity is a constant bugbear in many countries, South Africans face a bigger problem: keeping the lights on. These blackouts prompted Cape Town native Charlotte Slingsby to seek out a solution after her family home was found to be unsuitable for solar panels.
The result was Moya (wind in the Xhosa language), a new energy generation system: sheets of plastic have wave-like filaments attached that capture tiny amounts of wind energy that can then be stored in a battery.
“We need an independent solution for today,” Slingsby said. “You see a city which functions on electricity which just falls apart, from the most basic things like opening a door [or] an electric gate. You can’t even take your car out of the garage.”
She cites serious examples, such as people on life support machines who depend on a reliable electricity supply for survival. In a security-conscious society like South Africa, the shutdown of alarm systems at night can also be an invitation to criminals.
“It is quite terrifying and it is those day to day things that you forget about. Every part of your day changes,” she said.
Moya was developed during a two-year postgraduate course in innovation design engineering that Slingsby recently completed at the Royal College of Art (RCA) and Imperial College London. The system is aimed at accumulating small pieces of energy into a larger mass, in a similar way to drops of rain gathering together to eventually form a stream.
“I thought ‘ow do you come up with a new type of material- one that can accumulate all of those abundant but lower grade forms of energy?’”
The plastic sheets have slivers of bendable filaments that stand up and are moved by gusts of air. The filaments, which are encased in plastic, work using the piezoelectric effect – the ability of some materials to generate a charge in response to pressure. In this case, when the filaments are moved by gusts of wind, tiny pieces of energy are created. For her prototype, Slingsby used a flexible film of polyvinylidene fluoride.
“They have the ability to transform strain or bending energy into electrical energy,” she said.
This energy is then passed on to a capacitor – a device used to store an electrical charge – and then eventually on to a battery. Like the rain over a mountain, “thousands of tiny drops need to be accumulated to have enough energy to bring itself to the rivers and eventually to the sea”.
From tests she has carried out on wind tunnels, Slingsby has calculated that her prototype Moya system can generate about 10% of the energy per sq metre that a solar panel can. But the advantage of her sheets is that they can be installed in areas where solar panels cannot, such as under bridges. “It is reduced in efficiency but it is looking at a new type of material which has the ability to go in far more locations. It is all about accessibility to captured energy.”
One possible location for the panels is on the London underground. “Every tube is stopping and starting all the time and as it stops you can actually line the section of tunnel where it is slowing down, which almost assists the breaking through the added drag, and absorbs this wasted energy,” Slingsby said.
In theory, the sheets can be mounted anywhere, she said, including on the side of a skyscraper, but light would still be able to get through.
It will be some time before the system makes it that far. Slingsby said it could take between five and 10 years – after significant amount of research – to get to a marketable product.
Among the problems she faces is encouraging people to accept another form of energy generation. “What has to be understood is that in the future, whatever energy we are able to absorb freely is actually really valuable and there is going to be lots of different methods with different environments no matter how you look at it,” she said.
Power to the people
The energy crisis which has hit South Africa has sparked often daily blackouts and has hit growth projections for the country. The blackouts are known as “load shedding’, where there is not enough power to cover the whole area resulting in sections being shut off. South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma, blamed the poor infrastructure on apartheid, saying the system had been built to service only the white population. About 11 million people have power now in South Africa, twice the number in 1994. The problems have also been blamed on poor management and lack of investment.
The greenest school in Gauteng is the modest establishment at Orefile Primary School in Olievenhoutbosch. It is now the site of a breakthrough toilet installation that provides flush sanitation with minimal water usage – and it’s all designed, developed and manufactured right here in South Africa.
Mustek decided to sponsor the toilets as part of its CSI initiative, but the implications of the technology go way beyond the comfort and dignity of the 120 schoolchildren at Orefile: it has the potential to help preserve South Africa’s scarce water resources while saving millions on the construction of expensive sewerage reticulation.
The toilets are powered by a small solar panel that drives the two pumps contained in the sealed unit. Orefile is no stranger to solar technology, as this already supplies its electricity, while the school itself is built from environmentally-friendly razor board and waste water is re-used for other purposes.
“When we add the new solar toilets, it becomes even more interesting and challenging,” says Clever Shukwambani, Principal at Orefile Primary School.
Michael Cassidy, head of Renewable Energy at Mustek, explains that the technology distributor has a division focusing on photo-voltaic solutions.
“We wanted to give renewable energy some exposure and we came across this new technology: the solar-powered toilets. It’s a unique and different concept and we decided to sponsor a school.” The total investment, to install four structures and toilets at Orefile, was R50 000.00.
The SmartSan sanitation system was designed and developed by Professor Mulalo Doyoya and Jurgen Graupe specifically to meet the needs of the emerging market, where the infrastructure to provide traditional flush toilets is often not in place.
Prof Doyoyo explains that one of the biggest challenges with most traditional sanitation systems – whether regular flush toilets or mobile toilets – is what to do with the waste. “You have to dump it somewhere,” he says.
With the SmartSan system, biotechnology is used to process the waste within the unit itself. “It’s a mini waste treatment plant,” Prof Doyoyo says.
How it works is that the unit is installed as a closed system with either two or three tanks, depending upon the installation. The system recycles toilet flush water so it doesn’t have to be connected to municipal water, while rain water can be accommodated as well in the cistern supply tank.
A combination of biological anaerobic process and nano-filtering are used to clean the water once the toilet is used and flushed. The nano-filtration system ensures 100% removal of all dissolved contaminants such as nitrates, nitrites and phosphates in the filtered water, while the disinfection of the nano filter ensure the destruction of any possible harmful pathogens.
A ventilation system cap ensures removal of all possible odours, and there is no danger of leakage so water-borne diseases like cholera, diarrhoea or malaria cannot be spread.
The whole system requires very little maintenance, while the solar panel means it is independent from any external power supply.
More importantly, the SmartSan system uses just 600 litres of water per year, compared to a typical household usage of 32 000 litres per year used to flush the toilet.
Not only does the SmartSan system address a critical need for sanitation in a way that is sensitive to the realities of a water-scarce and infrastructure-poor country – because it is developed and manufactured in South Africa it is keeps vital intellectual property (IP) on our shores, while providing jobs and keeping the money in the economy. There are also export opportunities to countries that experience similar challenges.
The two partners started developing the systems in 2007, and have installed 1 300 units to date. Most of the sales were initially in the private sector, but the Free State Provincial Government has started using the toilets in its bucket eradication programme, and about 1 000 units have been installed so far.
Source: Environment Africa
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Christensen & Co Architects recently completed the first phase of Lund’s City Hall, a building that when complete, will be the greenest City Hall in all of Sweden. Designed with a pleated W-shaped plan, the building’s curtain walls bring in natural light and offer views out towards the landscape. The City Hall is located at Lund’s historic city center and will host 269,000 square feet of office space, conference facilities, a public ground floor, and accessible green roof.
Equipped with solar panels and earth water cooling, Lund City Hall only uses a fraction of the energy normally consumed by typical government buildings. Its dynamic, W-shaped facade was key in reducing the building’s energy footprint, and each facade is carefully oriented to optimize passive technologies and solar heat gain. The north-facing facades are completely glazed to maximize natural lighting indoors, while the south-facing facades are covered with dynamic solar-control panels that respond to daylight conditions. The facades facing the city center are designed with classical features to match region’s historic character.
The accessible green roof also plays a big role in making Lund City Hall energy efficient. In addition to sequestering carbon, the green roof helps regulate internal temperatures, store rainwater, and provide natural habitat for local flora and fauna. The green roof also acts as an extension between the neighboring new park and the adjacent historic city center.
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An analysis shows that PV output peaks hours before the grid really needs it
Most rooftop photovoltaic (PV) panels face south because the owners of the panels want to generate the most electricity possible. But a recent report says that shifting more PV panels to the west would produce electricity at a time when the electricity is much more useful to utilities, reducing the need for utilities to buy costly power to meet peak loads.
Writing in an Outlier blog for Opower, a company that analyzes energy data for utilities, Barry Fischer and Ben Harack note that most PV-equipped homes are producing much more power than they consume during the middle part of the day. The grid, however, really needs the power boost in the late afternoon.
Fischer and Harack said they looked at Opower data from 25,000 solar homes in the western U.S. along with public data about 110,000 residential projects installed in California since 2007.
“Our statistical results reveal a key disconnect between today’s solar panel landscape and the broader power system,” they write.
More west-facing panels would generate more power in the late afternoon and give utilities a “compelling alternative” to bringing additional power plants online.
That’s the same conclusion reached in a report from the Pecan Street Research Institute at the University of Texas at Austin last December. That report, however, was based on a much smaller sample — just 52 homes.
Lots of midday output
During the sunniest parts of the day, an average of 93 percent of the solar-equipped homes export electricity to the grid because the panels generate more electricity than the homes use. On one day in particular, a hot day in May of this year, the authors charted power exports in 25,000 western homes from about 8:00 in the morning until just before 4:00 in the afternoon.
After that, the solar homes actually used more than non-solar homes. The authors explain the situation this way: “Wondering why solar homes’ use of grid electricity shoots way above average after the sun goes down? It’s likely related to the elevated energy needs of their owners’ lifestyles: the typical solar home in our dataset is 34% larger than the typical non-solar home, 2.6 times as likely to own a pool, and 2.7 times as likely to enroll in an electric vehicle rate plan.”
At midday, between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., the average solar home produces enough power to run itself and two non-solar homes at the same time.
But peak demand on the grid occurs about 5:00 p.m., when the output of south-facing panels has fallen sharply. By 4:00 p.m., only 27 percent of solar homes are exporting power to the grid; by 5:00 p.m., that’s fallen to 6 percent.
“Could solar homes be more helpful in satisfying peak electric demand on the grid?” the authors write. “The answer is certainly yes. And a small subset of homes appears to be leading the way.”
Panels face south for a reason
In California, only 9 percent of solar panels face within 10 degrees of due west, the blog says. A western orientation reduces their total output by between 10 percent and 20 percent when compared with south-facing panels, and that means less electricity for homeowners and lower earnings from net-metering.
Peak output for west-facing arrays is 2:00 p.m., the blog notes, two hours later than for south-facing panels.
And that helps explain why some utilities are offering financial incentives to homeowners to make the switch. The study says some plans pay customers as much as 35 cents per kWh for power produced late in the afternoon vs. 12 cents per kWh for power exported to the grid at noon.
“Offering a handsome incentive for well-timed solar power (or well-timed reductions in usage) can be a smart play for any utility seeking to avoid a painful alternative: paying notoriously high marginal costs to source electricity from ‘peaker’ power plants (e.g. 3 to 5x the normal price level),” the report says.
“An appropriate time-of-use rate framework could enable west-facing systems to achieve compelling monetary returns despite their reduced annual energy output,” it continues. “Our recent analysis of time-varying rates — specifically those that encourage nighttime electric car charging — suggests they can have a strong effect in shaping consumer behavior.”
The California Energy Commission recently decided to award subsidies of up to $500 for the installation of west-facing panels.
Source: Green Building Advisor