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SOLARshell: The parametrically optimized façade as an energy source

17.05.2023

Urban power plant

Generating electricity where it is to be used. This sounds simple enough, but it is actually difficult in cities. After all, roof areas tend to be small compared with the height of buildings and their value as potential outdoor space is too important. The energy yield which conventional building façades might deliver, on the other hand, is not adequate. A team of scientists from the Institute of Architecture at HTWK Leipzig is intent on changing this situation. “We want our solar façades to bring photovoltaic systems into dense, urban spaces,” says HTWK professor Frank Hülsmeier. His team has developed an energy producing façade with ALUCOBOND® tray panels. The geometry is three-dimensional and silicon half-cells adhere onto the upwardly inclined panel surfaces.

The first company building featuring this façade is located in Bad Rappenau. 400 PV modules are spread over two hundred ALUCOBOND® tray panels, all around the building. The total annual energy generation is 10,000 kWh. Enough, for instance, to supply two four-person households with electricity all year round. A digital, parametric design process was needed to achieve this: software developed for the Solar Shell calculates the optimal façade to produce the best light yield and, in so doing, the highest electricity yield for each and every location, compass direction and building. This obviously means that every façade has to be different; no location, no building shell can be the same as the next. But, they do have one thing in common: they are all made of ALUCOBOND®, folded into lightweight but very strong factory-assembled tray panels.

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© Adrian Heller

The silicon half-cells adhere flush to the composite panel surface. ALUCOBOND® is ideal for this purpose because it can withstand both heat and cold and be folded. It also has a smooth surface and adhesives can be applied.

Solar Shell is a system solution which adapts individually to each façade. This means that large amounts of electricity can be generated where it is needed most: In the city.

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