– Solar Windows at EPF Lausanne –
The new convention center of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) is being equipped with an impressive glass facade composed of dye solar cells. The transparent, colored solar panels are derived from the solar cell technology developed by EPFL professor Michael Grätzel. The solar windows are currently being installed on the west facade of EPFL’s SwissTech Convention Center, scheduled to open its doors in April 2014.
The 1,400 solar modules, each 35 by 50 cm in size, will combine for a total surface area of 300 m2. The design by artists Daniel Schlaepfer and Catherine Bolle calls for five different shades of red, green and orange, giving the ensemble a warm, dynamic aspect. The photovoltaic glass panels covering the west facade of the SwissTech Convention Center is the world’s first exterior architectural integration of this cutting-edge technology.
The photovoltaic facade is the fruit of an ambitious goal to replace passive sun-shades with active elements. The solar panels manufactured by Solaronix were wholly customized to the architects’ specifications. More than half of the incoming sunlight is allowed to shine through the panels, allowing them to behave like the sun-shade initially planned. The first estimation of annual electrical production is around 2,000 kWh, an impressive figure given the high transparency and the orientation of the facade. Prototypes of the solar windows have been presented in February at the PV Expo 2013, where the Science & Technology Office Tokyo was in charge of the Swiss Solar Pavilion.
This innovative solar installation is funded by Romande Energie, and will be operational in December 2013. Ten percent of the surface area of the Romande Energie – EPFL solar park, installed on the rooftops of the school’s buildings, is dedicated to scientific research. “For us it’s essential to support the emergence of innovative technologies that are directly related to what we do,” says Pierre-Alain Urech, CEO of Romande Energie. This solar facade project is the culmination of a long-standing commitment to innovation and technology transfer at EPFL.