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The Integrated Concentrating Solar Facade System

The new integrated concentrating solar facade may change the appearance of new houses in the not too distant future.

IC solar facade
Researchers at the Center for architecture Science and Ecology are working on a new integrated solar facade that utilizes concentrated solar energy which will increase efficiency and shorten payback periods while addressing all of the main uses of solar power in a single application. Solar photovoltaics, solar thermal energy, passive solar heat and day lighting will all be embodied in this single architectural product.

More efficient: Concentrated solar is the base technology for this new product. What will the system look like in a home installation? Transparent, hexagonal lenses will be integrated into the exterior of a house. These lenses focus solar irradiation onto tiny solar cells within the facade. The lenses concentrate sunlight up to 400 times, which produces a much more efficient, multi-junction solar cell. The cell tests up to 39.4 percent more efficient than normal solar cells.

Many benefits: The system will allow you to see outdoors while the sun provides natural, energy-saving indoor light during the day. In the small places between the honeycombed solar panels there is a coolant that captures whatever solar energy is not converted by the PV cell. That heat is then used to heat the water supply or if the solar heat is effective enough it can be used to heat the living space or even distributed absorption refrigeration cooling.

Other benefits of the system include the reduction of internal solar heat gain and improved indoor lighting quality. Also a clear benefit; the modular design can both be used to retrofit existing buildings and homes or be implemented into new designs.

Early stages but impressive: This technology is still in the early stages so there are still unanswered questions regarding whether or not the facades can be manufactured easily and whether or not it manufactured at a low enough cost to be sold commercially. The appearance and aesthetics of the facades are also an unknown at this point but it is difficult not to be impressed by the many solar functions this one product can fulfill. By capturing both solar thermal and solar heating it is a huge step forward.

With increasing solar cell efficiency we can expect to see more and more residential as well as commercial applications that will help to make solar energy more and more affordable as well as functional. Concentrated solar energy is another exciting phase in solar power development that brings with it great promise for truly making solar more accessible and affordable.

Since development is often rapid, make sure you stay updated on the newest advances regarding IC solar facades if you plan to build a new house or even consider making your existing more energy efficient and environementally friendly.

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