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Innovative and highly-efficient solar thermal collector for Building façades

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Solar energy that enhance a building’s appearance

A newly developed solar thermal collector meant to be embedded into a building’s facade to enhance its aesthetic value also generates energy for heating and cooling.

Climate Change and Environment icon Climate Change and Environment
Industrial Technologies icon Industrial Technologies
Energy icon Energy

Excessive consumption of electrical energy is a major contributor to climate change. Around 40 % of total electrical consumption in the EU is caused by air conditioning systems (heating and cooling) in buildings, which are also the cause of 36 % of CO2 emissions. Current heating and cooling systems are highly dependent on fossil fuels as only 16 % of air conditioning equipment work with renewable energy. Improving the energy efficiency of buildings, however, could reduce the total consumption of energy in the EU by 5 to 6 %, and CO2 emissions by 5 %. The EU-funded Prisma project has developed a highly efficient prototype of a multifunctional solar thermal collector that is entirely based on renewable energy. Customer needs identified The Prisma device is easy to install as it can be used in the form of a facade, decorative element, parapet or glazing. Furthermore, it reduces the annual energy costs throughout a building’s lifetime by 50 %. “It acts as a climate envelope that efficiently protects the building from unwanted heating or cooling, while at the same time delivering solar heating to the building’s systems,” says Flemming Wagner, CEO of Asoluna, the Swedish SME coordinating the project. A study was conducted into the technical and business feasibility of bringing the Prisma solar collector to market. “We aim to discern the needs and demands of our stakeholders, and to identify the best business model to exploit the technology. We also considered the viability of including any additional functionalities that our customers may be seeking,” explains Wagner. Researchers performed a gap analyses to find if the prototype conformed with stake holder feedback, and risk analysis helped identify potential risks from a commercial and financial point of view. Scale up analyses was used to identify industrial partners for producing parts and determining what is needed to bring the improved prototype to market. A growth strategy was also created using business model analysis, showing the financial feasibility of the project. Attractive and efficient Designed in collaboration with Europe’s leading sustainability architects, the Prisma solar collector can be easily retrofit onto existing buildings. Wagner points out: “The cost-effective system, which is easy to install and suitable for both new and old buildings, complies with statutory regulations, directives and standards for facade applications, is around 80 % efficient, while protecting the building against heat, moisture and cold.” The system also enables design flexibility, allowing it to meet customers specific demands. Its patented modular concept allows safe and rapid deployment to seamless become a part of a building facade. Furthermore, it’s operating life is comparable to the building, it costs no more than traditional facade elements and requires minimal maintenance. By having more solar thermal energy installed, the need for other less environmentally-friendly heating solutions will decrease, and this will help to mitigate climate change. According to Wagner: “Until now, architects in general have been hesitant to add solar thermal solutions to their building projects since they think that the current solutions are ugly. Now, with a fantastic-looking product – that you can actually design just the way you want – it is the opposite.”


PRISMA, solar, thermal, collector, façade

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