Faced with the effects of the climate emergency, the development of solar technologies offers unprecedented opportunities for urgent energy transition. The Be-Smart European project relies on a future dominated by the broad integration of energy-generating construction elements in buildings – in short, walls and roofs that produce energy. EPoG technology (for energy positive glazing) is at the center of this dynamic and is supported by the European Union.
EPoG is a multifunctional glass containing solar cells and is an established technology that is reliable, inexpensive, and generates huge added value. EPoG is emerging as a new benchmark in both architecture and construction. However, due to the rapid evolution of solar technologies in recent years, EPoG remains largely unfamiliar and is often confused with the features and uses of standard solar panels used in conventional solar power plants. Be-Smart aims to encourage a paradigm shift: the rise of solar technologies is less of an engineer’s role and more of an architect’s.
Building active roof and facade is a necessity
For the past several months, tens of thousands of men and women, young and old alike have been demonstrating in Europe for stronger political action against climate change. There are two major issues in the urgent transition towards sustainability: the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (80% of which is generated by fossil fuels in Switzerland), and the increase in renewable energy production. A wide range of technical solutions is already available. Among them is the necessary deployment of solar technology fundamental to meeting the targets that have been set out. This involves a two-pronged approach to drive the construction of large-scale solar power plants, in parallel with the installation of wind and hydraulic power plants.
Currently, standard solar panels are optimized to allow for mass industry-wide implementation, such as those found on the flat roofs of industrial plants. However, large-scale integration of energy-producing elements into buildings needs to accelerate.
The outlook is promising thanks to the myriad of recent advances in scientific research and industrial enterprise, which have accelerated and maximized solar cell efficiency and reduced production costs.
Building an energy-active roof or facade with major architectural value is possible today!
EpoG. The new reference
EPoG technology, or Energy Positive Glazing, is emerging as the new standard in the field of architecture. Its uniqueness adds architectural function to the use of photovoltaic technology.
Unlike a standard solar panel, EPoG is a building element classified under the smart glasses family. Specifically, it is a laminated glass constructed of interposed solar cells with optional colours. This allows it to be a substitute for other construction elements such as tiles or Alucobond plates.
In addition to providing traditional glass features such as water tightness, insulation, sun protection as well as aesthetics, EPoG also produces its own energy.
This brings added value to building owners with additional profit potential in just ten years for facades and a mere few years for roof installations (with performance variations based on: orientation, colour, etc.)
Today, EPoG is regarded as a mature technology continuously being optimised to further reduce costs.
A paradigm shift: from photovoltaics to building construction material
EPoG is an up and coming technology owing to its rapid development over the past ten years. The general perception of solar technologies is often through the functionalities and uses of conventional solar panels, which are considered unreliable, expensive, solely energy producing, and conspicuously superimposed on finished buildings.
The rise of EPoG implies a paradigm shift. There are no limits to the designs and constructions possible today. All it requires is the early integration of EPoG exploration between architect and builder at the beginning of every project, versus solar technologies as an afterthought of construction with unattractive aesthetics results.
Be-Smart’s challenge is to broadcast the value of EPoG to industry specialists as well as the general public, and to transform it into an integral component of architect and builder constructions.
A number of “Model” buildings will be presented to demonstrate project stages and feasibility, as well as to exhibit new forms buildings will take in the future to the general public.
Local production of this technology will also be highly encouraged to facilitate production lines and direct recycling. EPoG’s potential for building integration is almost limitless. Its overall value far exceeds its technical advantages. Just imagine Notre-Dame decked in a new active roof, providing energy across the entire city of Paris! Anything is possible through the creativity and emotion EPoG can inspire.
Article courtesy of Be-Smart Project