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Project to Integrate Photovoltaics into Building Materials Surges Forward

Thursday, June 30, 2011

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A recent update issued by the global building-materials giant Tata Steel offers details on an $18 million, three-year joint pilot project to develop dye-sensitized solar-cell technology aimed at integrating power generation into products used in walls, roofs and windows.

In the update, Tata Steel says it is moving into a “pre-industrialization” phase of the development program, with the objective of commercialization of products using the technology. The company said its plans include accelerating technical development and “establishing a product, process and supply chain that can be successfully commercialized.”

Tata Steel said the pilot program has resulted in the development of the world’s largest dye-sensitized photovoltaic module—more than 3 meters in length and approximately 1 square meter in area. The module was produced as a single length of steel on which a photovoltaic coating was applied.

“Developing the ability to print the PV coating directly onto steel cladding would enable the modules to be produced in large volumes, cost effectively and integrated into building envelopes,” Tata Steel says in the update.

Australia-based Dyesol Ltd., a global supplier of dye-sensitized solar-cell technology and a partner with Tata Steel in the project, said the program reflects its strategic objective of partnering with building-materials manufacturers to add photovoltaic capability to their products. Dyesol is a global supplier of dye-sensitized solar-cell technology.

“In the coming years, buildings will integrate power generation onto products used in walls, roofs and windows, radically changing the function of a building’s envelope,” said Marc Thomas, chief executive officer of Dyesol Inc. and general manager of Dyesol’s Global Glass Business, based in San Francisco.

 Tata Steel

 Tata Steel

Tata Steel and Dyesol Ltd. say the pilot project at Tata Steel’s Shotton site in North Wales has resulted in the development of the world’s largest dye-sensitized photovoltaic module, shown here.

“By partnering with major building-materials manufacturers such as Tata Steel, Dyesol will hasten that change and forever alter the way we look at buildings.”

Dyesol said dye-sensitized photovoltaics represent “the emerging third generation of solar technology and the first technology that promises to bring building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) into the mainstream.” The company says the technology offers lower material cost to manufacture and better energy yield in low- and diffuse-light conditions.

The technology “promises to make solar generation ubiquitous by incorporating generation into building, auto and industrial materials,” Dyesol said. “The technology can be incorporated into roofs, façades and window products, eliminating the need to add additional surface area for solar generation.” 

The technology also offers the potential for use on all sides of a building to generate power throughout the day, Dyesol said.

The Tata Steel photovoltaics program was described in Durability + Design last November in Researchers in UK Charged up About Photovoltaic Coating Technology.

   

Tagged categories: Photovoltaic coatings; Solar; Steel

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