BlueScope snags Australian grant for BIPV roofing Companies mentioned: BlueScope, ARENA, Solarion, UCLA, California Nanosystems Institute, U.S. Navy
Thin Film Intelligence Brief 18 – 31 July 2012
BlueScope snags Australian grant for BIPV roofing
Australian steel giant BlueScope Steel has been granted one of the first awards under the newly formed ARENA’s $126m Emerging Renewables Program, to help its steel roofing division develop a prototype building-integrated photovoltaic system, or BIPV.
The award is a grant of almost $2.3m, and will comprise almost half of the project cost. The company is developing a $5m prototype that combines its steel roofing with thin-film solar panels from an as yet un-named, but non-Australian, company.
ARENA, which runs the programme, just began operations at the beginning of July, consolidating $3.2bn in Australian Government support for research, demonstration, commercialisation and deployment of clean energy technologies.
In announcing the award, the Australian government said that the new systems will be manufactured at BlueScope Steel’s Port Kembla facilities, and undergo testing in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. The company hopes to take the product to market within 12 months, according to GM of sales, Andrew Garey.
Solarion producing in new German factory
Bucking the factory-closure trend among thin film companies, next-generation roll-to-roll CIGS thin-film manufacturer Solarion has just begun production at its first plant in a new industrial park in Zwenkau-Sued by Leipzig, Germany. Solarion said that it had invested approximately €60m in the new facility, with €20m provided by Saechsische Aufbaubank.
Solarion began to build its pilot production line in 2003, and later did research and development work for the European Space Agency.
Targeting the BIPV and commercial rooftop markets, the company will produce at 10% cell efficiency and a 20MW annual capacity, and will launch its flexible modules in 2013, after recieving IEC certification. Solarion said that the plant would eventually employ as many as 150 people.
While its flexible modules are planned to be launched next year, the first product to roll off the assembly line at factory opening will be glass-glass CIGS modules.
UCLA creates spray-on transparent solar film
Researchers at UCLA have created a new transparent organic polymer that produces electricity, by harvesting only infrared light, and by utilising a new metal electrode that appears to be transparent, because it is so small that it is invisible to the naked eye.
Professor Yang Yang at UCLA’s California Nanosystems Institute, who has headed up the research on the new photovoltaic polymer, said that the new polymer uses silver nanowires about 0.1 microns thick, about one-thousandth the width of a human hair, and titanium dioxide nonoparticles as an electrode. When in liquid form, it is as clear as a glass of water, and when applied to a hard, flat surface as a film it is meant to be invisible to the eye.
Yang’s team is converting only about 6% of the sun’s energy into electricity, but Yang says there is room to double that to 10% within 5 years. While the efficiency is low, air conditioning needs would also be reduced directly by the technology, because infrared sunlight supplies heat.
Yang envisions that robots could spray the clear plastic film onto any smooth surfaces, making window treatment possible at up to $15, while leaving the surface clear. The idea has understandably attracted commercial interest.
US Navy completes its largest BIPV system
In Yokosuka, Japan, the U.S. Navy Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY) has just completed installation of the Navy’s largest building-integrated PV system to date, with more than 1,500 solar modules rated at 250 Watts each.
According to Public Works Department Yokosuka Energy Manager Tom Bawden, the 396 kW DC system will provide 1% of CFAY's energy requirement. The project, on the roof of CFAY's Commissary and Navy Exchange feeds directly into a dedicated electric grid for CFAY, and has an added benefit of adding a layer of insulation and extending the roof’s useful life, according to Bawden.
"The modules are copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) technology and are made into flexible solar panels - 'thin film' - that were attached to our, otherwise, unusable curved roof,” said Bawden.
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A pro-nuclear and pro-gas physicist is due to take over as head of the US Department of Energy this year. The PV industry will be glad he also has a soft spot for solar.