European directives have established that by 2020 all new buildings must be almost zero consumption, i.e. a building’s energy consumption in terms of hot water, air conditioning and electricity must amount to practically nothing. To achieve this, the building must include renewable generation systems, while the construction process itself must also be optimised by architecturally integrating these systems.
Solar energy is the best solution for renewable generation. Thermal solar panels optimise the production of thermal energy for hot water, heating and even cooling (by means of absorption/adsorption systems or solid/liquid desiccants). Meanwhile, photovoltaic solar panels produce electricity for any required purpose.
Solar concentration is based on positioning the ideal element (mirror, lens, etc.) between the sun and the panel, thereby improving efficiency. It also reduces the surface area required for photovoltaic cells, which are the costliest elements in both financial and environmental terms. Solar concentration means that a very small area receives a very high power density, which can cause overheating that could in turn hinder the performance of the solar cells. To avoid this, the photovoltaic panel is actively cooled. If we use the energy extracted from the cells by the cooling system, we have analogous thermal energy to that of a thermal solar panel, what is known as a hybrid thermo-photovoltaic system.
Architectonic integration is based on incorporating generator systems in the building in a harmonic manner; from the outset, the design considers the incorporation of these systems, which are perceived by society to be something natural.
On the basis of such concepts, a project has been developed that consists of the design and experimental implementation of an innovative solar concentration technology that permits a high degree of architectonic integration and efficient hybrid thermo-electric generation in situ. The proposed research shall seek to design a solar concentration system in the minutest detail and perform a configurative analysis both of the concentration system and its integration in the façade. It shall also study the behaviour of the system by means of dynamic simulation for different positions and weather conditions, thereby increasing applicability and versatility.
The use of multi-phase optic elements, which combine different wave propagation principles, will lead to a system that optimises efficiency in optic, electrical and thermal terms. The aforesaid concentrators will be studied, modified and experimented in order to improve current technologies and broaden society’s possibilities for using the same.
This research was financed by the 2013 Call of the Spanish State Programme for Research, Development and Innovation Aimed at Society’s Challenges (MINECO).
The project is related with as many as three SDG. To begin, it fits with SDG 7, as it promotes affordable, renewable and sustainable energy for everyone. It proposes an improvement to infrastructures that fits with the concept of zero consumption through the use of a sustainable energy source. And the project is also directly related with SDG 11, as it reduces the environmental impact of urban zones and promotes an efficient use of resources. And finally, it also fits SDG 12, as it guarantees a sustainable energy consumption pattern and increases the use of renewable energy sources.