Photovoltaics meets concrete: SOLAR.con® façade sets new standards

HERING has worked with HTWK Leipzig, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the TU Dresden and SUNOVATION® to develop the SOLAR.con® façade. SOLAR.con® is a façade realised with exposed concrete into which small phototvoltaic (PV) modules have been incorporated and aligned to optimise yield. This ground-breaking research is being supported by the Federal Ministry of Economics in Germany with the aim of driving forward innovative solutions in the field of solar energy.

The highly complex and futuristic façade that uses exposed concrete was designed by HERING and produced at its own prefabrication plant. The research team’s final meeting took place at the demonstration façade at HERING’s works in Burbach-Holzhausen at the end of April. ServusTV’s camera team also turned up for the occasion.

The resulting film is available on ServusTV’s catch-up player:

The share of renewable energies in global power supplies is growing continuously – and PV systems are playing a significant part in that growth. The ‘nearly zero energy building’ construction standard was introduced to apply to all new buildings in Germany from 2021. This standard does not only demand high energy performances but also requires the integration of alternative methods of power generation in or near the buildings in question. Similar regulations are also being planned in other countries. That’s opening up huge potential for integrating PV into building structures.

One promising approach to the integration of PV into exposed concrete façades is to enable its mass production on a commercially viable basis. The core idea here is to align the PV modules with the sun in the best way possible and to utilise this alignment as a creative design element within the concrete and consequently to transform smooth walls into three-dimensional structures. A hexagonal concrete module was developed that embeds the solar module at its centre within the framework of SOLAR.con. The benefit that this equilateral honeycomb shape delivers is that it doesn’t only allow south-facing façades to be realised with a single standard component but also east- and west-facing ones too. The solar modules allow their orientation to be adjusted by turning the solar concrete elements by 60° to the left or right. It’s further possible to replace solar modules that have become defective or that have lost power over their lifetimes.

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