In the age of green energy we are seeing interesting new developments that marry building materials with the capacity to harness renewable power sources. Building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) or concentrating PV technologies aren't new, but the ability to concentrate and maximize the capture of energy by tracking sunlight from dawn to dusk is. The New York-based Center for Architectural Science and Ecology CASE has unveiled a new Integrated Concentrating (IC) Dynamic Solar Facade which does just that - and it looks great!
Previous examples of the technology have used integrated, multi-tier photovoltaic and heat insulation technology embedded in super-tempered glass window systems, but the breakthrough here is a combination of:
- A miniaturized concentrator solar cell
- A tracking system
- A glass pyramid shape
The concentrator cell uses a lens to focus incoming light onto the solar cell. These are suspended on a wire tracking system that pivot with the sun's progress across the sky, maximizing light gain all day long. The glass pyramid shape magnifies the light available and additionally serves to capture thermal energy.
This advanced technology provides a number of advantages over current BIPV systems according to CASE. Not only does IC use as much sunlight as possible in the production of electricity, it also allows greater diffuse light to enter the building reducing the need for artificial light. Additionally it can be applied to both retrofit applications and new construction, requires little maintenance and is modern and aesthetically pleasing. And what's more, the thermal energy trapped by the glass pyramid design is funneled for use in the building's heating or cooling systems.
Incorporating these types of arrays could see solar energy becoming an increasingly viable option that is competitive with other energy sources, reducing our dependency on fossil fuels. We're looking forward to it.