Human settlements

Renewable energy

Solar photovoltaics 13: Development of a solar wall building-integrated photovoltaic demonstration system

Renewable Energy Commercialisation in Australia, Australian Greenhouse Office, 2003
NOTE: The status of these projects will have changed since the time of publication, and project contacts may also have changed.

The installation of a building-integrated photovoltaic solar power system in a new seven story building will save about 36,000 tonnes of CO2 for the lifetime of the building.

In December 2001 the University of Melbourne's private arm, Melbourne University Private Ltd (MUPL), supported by a $755,000 grant under the Renewable Energy Commercialisation Program, completed construction of Australia's first large-scale building-integrated photovoltaic solar power generation project.

Using a standard facade fixing system, MUPL has successfully integrated polycrystalline solar cells into the cladding of one of its new buildings in University Square. Building on project expertise developed both in Australia and overseas by design partners ARUP, BP Solar, and Solar Technologies, the facility demonstrates the application of building-integrated photovoltaic power generation within an urban habitat.

The solar cells are laminated into heat-strengthened glass panels. The clear inner layer of glass is 6mm thick, and the low-iron outer layer is 6mm thick. The two glass layers are separated by a 2mm liquid interlayer, within which the polycrystalline cells and collector conductors are set. The glass panels form an integral part of the building's northern facade and cover a total area of 426 metres. The design of the PV modules is based on proven technologies installed around the world and is expected to last the lifetime of the host building.

The installation is likely to produce 46kW peak or approximately 40,000kWh per annum, saving approximately 50 tonnes of CO2 per annum in displacing traditional coal-fired generation.

The DC power produced by the panels is converted into a balanced three-phase AC supply by inverters manufactured and supplied by Power Solutions Australia. The inverters will have full data logging capabilities that allow the university to monitor the performance of the installation. The generated power will be fed back into the building's electrical infrastructure, and on the occasions that the photovoltaic supply exceeds the building's latent internal consumption, the excess power will be exported to the mains grid network.

The project allows for a springboard for further research by University of Melbourne scientists and students, with the development of online monitoring and a multimedia showcase planned to commence shortly. It is hoped that this project will be the catalyst for other urban building-integrated photovoltaic projects both nationally and internationally.

For more information please contact

Allan Tait
Melbourne University Private
442 Auburn Road
Hawthorn VIC 3122
Tel (03) 9810 3322
Fax (03) 9810 3133

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