SwissTech Convention Center Features Multicolored Solar Panel Facade

A view of the solar window form outside the SwissTech Convention Center.
A view of the solar window form outside the SwissTech Convention Center. (Credit: Alain Herzog / EPFL)

A while back we reported on scientists working on multicolored solar panels for facade design. Now, a new convention center at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) has been fitted with the world’s first solar window composed of colored solar panels.

The first architectural integration of this technology is a new step in Romande Energie and EPFL’s partnership to develop a large-scale solar park and conduct research and development projects.

Transparent, colored solar panels, fruits of the Grätzel cell technology, are currently being installed on the west faсade of EPFL’s future SwissTech Convention Center, scheduled to open its doors in April 2014. These 1,400 solar modules, each one 35 by 50 cm (approx. 14 by 20″) in size, will combine for a total surface area of 300 m2 (3229.2 ft²). The design, by artists Daniel Schlaepfer and Catherine Bolle, calls for 5 different shades of red, green and orange, giving the ensemble a warm, dynamic aspect.

A view of the solar window form inside the SwissTech Convention Center.

A view of the solar window form inside the SwissTech Convention Center. (Credit: Alain Herzog / EPFL)

This exterior solar window facade is a world first. The project leverages the potential of dye-sensitized solar cell known as Grätzel cells. In addition to being translucent, they’re indifferent to the angle of incidence of light that hits them; they can be deployed vertically without any loss in efficiency. They not only produce renewable energy, but they also shade the building from direct sunlight, reducing the need for air conditioning. This innovative solar installation is funded by Romande Energie, and will be operational in December 2013.

The modern version of a dye-sensitized solar cell, also known as the Grätzel cell, was originally co-invented in 1988 by Brian O’Regan and Michael Grätzel at UC Berkeley and this work was later developed by the aforementioned scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. Michael Grätzel has been awarded the 2010 Millennium Technology Prize for this invention.

“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. 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. Romande Energie is also participating in research projects on the evolution of electricity grids, electricity storage and the production of renewable energies.

The above story is based on or reprinted from materials provided by École Polytechnique Fédérale De Lausanne.

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