Homeowners who wanted to produce energy by capturing the sun's rays through solar panels on their roofs used to have to put up with ugly add-ons to their houses in order to help save the planet. But now there is no need for green buildings to be either expensive or an eyesore, says a Spanish-German partnership, which has developed a virtually invisible solar film for an accessible price in a EUREKA project.
"You don't see the film at all it's marvellous," says Francisco Ruiz Caballero, General Manager and Head of R&D projects at Intemper Espanola, the Spanish partner which led EUREKA project Fotointegral. "It's integrated into the building rather than superimposed on it."
Much solar energy technology uses rigid crystal silicon panels. Installing them on homes or offices usually involves placing a mechanical frame on the building and that usually comes on top of rooftop waterproofing and insulation. Ruiz started to wonder if four or five separate products on a roof were really necessary and whether they couldn't be combined into one multi-purpose product, made from flexible silicon cells.
One of Intemper's suppliers was bought by a German company with an industry reputation for waterproofing flat roofs, which made it a clear candidate to partner with Ruiz's Intemper in researching the new product. The company agreed to join the R&D with EUREKA backing.
Although some solar panelling did use amorphous silicon cells, they tended to be too expensive and had a reputation for being less effective than the crystal silicon panelling. Intemper and its partner had to make their flexible film thin enough to not jut out and spoil the sharp lines on stylishly designed roofs and then they had to ensure the solar power it generated could compete with the power output from bulky panelling.
The German company created sophisticated performance tables to measure the quality of the test combinations of s
|Contact: Piotr Pogorzelski|