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Bluescope unveils “world first” solar roof with heat and power

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A small terrace house in the inner Sydney suburb of Glebe is hosting what is believed to be the world’s first building integrated solar system that generates electricity as well as heat.

bluescope bipvcThe array combines thin-film solar PV and solar thermal technologies into a steel sheet roofing product produced by Australian steel manufacturer Bluescope, with assistance from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

The top layer of the roofing product (pictured) generates electricity in the same way as solar PV modules – although it uses thin film technology for less weight and thickness – while heat is trapped and distributed between the two layers for use in water and space heating.

The BIPVT installation is being hailed as a product that could one day be sold on Australian rooftops, although Bluescope is quick to point out that won’t be anytime soon. It has, however, said in the past that it feels it will be a cost competitive product for homes and businesses. But more work needs to be done in understanding supply chains and manufacturing costs before it is launched on the market.

Still, ARENA, which is facing closure from Tony Abbott’s ultra conservative government, was happy to promote the product, and the result of a $2.3 million grant for the $5 million project.

“Today we are witnessing an exciting new technology solution moving from the lab to be prototyped on everyday Australian rooftops for the first time,”ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said in a statement.

“The old corrugated steel roof on this house in Glebe has been completely replaced with the first integrated photovoltaic (PV) thermal system in Australia, generating reliable renewable energy for the residents. A tile roof in the Illawarra region has also been replaced with the integrated PV system, demonstrating its versatility.

“In addition to PV panels, an innovative thermal duct system warms and cools air to supplement air conditioning in the homes. These first installations are an important step as the technology moves towards commercialisation and cost competitiveness with conventional rooftop PV.”

Frischknecht said the system had been designed to provide a low cost system that would reduce installation and energy costs, as well as peak demand pressures on the grid.

BlueScope is trying to reduce system costs through improved PV modules and roofing designs, reduced packaging and transport, improved building energy efficiency and easy, low-cost installation.

When the project was announced in 2012, Bluescope said the building integrated photovoltaic market was expected to increase 10-fold across the globe in coming years and become a key part of new construction, and even building retrofits.

Bluescope’s head of coating product development, Dr Troy Coyle, told RenewEconomy in 2012 that that innovation in designs, and incorporating energy production was a key part of the future market. “That is where the roofing industry is heading,” she said.

“The market motivator is energy reduction, and the motivator for integration into rooftop design is a reduction of material costs and in building heating costs,” Coyle said. “That way we can have it all done in one.”

It could also be used in retrofits. A new roof deck above the existing roof surface can incorporate solar cells, and air then flows in the duct created under the new roof surface. This air flow will not only help cool the solar cells during warm weather, improving generation efficiency, but it will also help to heat and cool the building. Warm air generated in winter is used for heating, and as heat is radiated from the cells on summer nights, cool air is then supplied to the building, increasing overall energy efficiency.

Bluescope sees this technology being applicable in the residential, commercial and industrial markets.

The opening was attended by the Bob Baldwin, the deputy for Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane. “This a great display of Australian ingenuity and an example of industry leveraging government funding to make breakthroughs that may lead to advanced manufacturing and export opportunities,” he said in a statement. Next month, Baldwin’s party will introduce legislation to close ARENA, the agency that made this funding possible.

 

 

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  • Alex

    Perhaps we should write to Bob Baldwin and remind him of the important work that ARENA is doing. http://www.bobbaldwin.com.au/pages/contact-bob.php

  • Alex

    Dear Hon. Baldwin,

    I am excited by the prospect of Bluescopes combined solar-heating roofing technology that you mention on your website. The energy benefits of such a system are obvious to everyone, and I share your enthusiasm for this development.

    Unfortunately you seem to have neglected to mention on your website that your own party is hell-bent on defunding ARENA (even though you boast about the Commonwealth Government’s contribution to the project). Can you please clarify your position on this? How can you claim this technology is good while scrapping the very agency that funds such research projects, which are of potential economic benefits to all Australia?

    I would like to see funding maintained for ARENA. It is a great investment for all Australians.

  • Chris Fraser

    !!!We knew they could do it !!!

  • Graeme Henchel

    My email to Hon Balldwin

    Congratulations on opening the bluscope steel solar roofing prototype which was developed by research funded by ARENA.
    Congratulations for taking coalition hypocrisy to new heights by taking credit for this venture while simultaneously being a government that is dismantling any meaningful support for clean energy technologies.
    Your government’s ignorance and duplicity is simply outstanding.

  • howardpatr

    With Abbott, Hunt, MacFarlane, Baldwin and the likes backbenchers such as Angus Taylor working against the development of renewable energy technologies Australia is pushing against the odds.

  • Gongite

    Wow this product is fantastic! Could be a winner for the Wollongong economy too – goodness knows we could do with a boost. Hope it doesn’t take too long to bring to market.

    Alex, I liked your idea of writing to Bob Baldwin and have sent him a message politely pointing out all the good work ARENA is doing on renewables.

  • wideEyedPupil

    Can’t wait to see the energy output specs on this product. If the price is good it makes a lot of sense.

  • Phil Gorman

    Herewith text of Email to Mr Baldwin.

    p { margin-bottom: 0.25cm; line-height: 120%; }

    Dear Mr Baldwin,

    Thank you for
    demonstrating an intelligent and enlightened attitude to innovation
    in renewable energy projects. It makes a refreshing change.

    Congratulations on
    having the foresight to attend the unveiling of Bluescope Steel’s
    innovative solar roofing on the Glebe house. This project
    demonstrates the way ahead for cost effective energy saving roofing
    in Australia and overseas. As you know this $5 million project was
    made possible by a $2.3 million grant from ARENA. Thank you too for
    your encouraging address on this occasion. “This a great display
    of Australian ingenuity and an example of industry leveraging
    government funding to make breakthroughs that may lead to advanced
    manufacturing and export opportunities.”

    This world first in
    building an integrated solar system that generate both electricity
    and heat gives Australia a great competitive advantage. It has
    enormous potential for job creating innovative manufacturing in
    Australia. The domestic market for thin film photo voltaic/thermal
    roofing should bring record breaking returns on a very modest
    investment by a government agency. The export potential for the
    leader in this field can only be imagined.

    Does this presage a
    more positive attitude towards renewable energy on the part of your
    government? I am extremely relieved to see you are in favour of well
    targeted government subsidies bringing renewable energy technologies
    to fruition. I urge you to press Mr MacFarlane and the cabinet to
    strengthen the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and fund it more
    generously. As you so rightly point out this kind of modest
    investment by government can result in disproportionately high
    economic benefits for industry and government.

    Yours sincerely,

    Phil Gorman

  • wideEyedPupil

    Saw this story on Inhabitat on FB today. Was credited to clean technica who obviously you syndicate to Giles. Shouldn’t the link come back to original source not where they scraped it from?

    EDIT
    Oh I see they credit you for the images, haha
    http://inhabitat.com/worlds-first-integrated-solar-system-generates-electricity-and-heat/

  • Ken Fabian

    But will Bluescope put the interests of this small part of their business ahead of it’s core business – steel? Will they oppose the axing of ARENA and dilution of RET or will they be giving support and encouragement and possibly donations to the current government to pursue it’s anti-renewable, anti-climate, deny and delay and load the true costs of steel onto the future position whilst attempting to trade on this small investment for greenwash PR purposes? Will, Bluescope, like Origin with Sliver cells, readily let their renewables investments go to the wall when climate policy push comes to shove? And, should they decide to abandon this, will they let others carry it forward or will they jealously retain their rights to keep it on the shelf and sue any entrepreneurs who dare to do anything too similar? Sorry, but my cynicism is showing.

  • RTE

    eaasagyrt uids seaopuiuy

  • JonathanMaddox

    Yeah, the scare quotes in the headline are apposite. http://www.lmgtfy.com/?q=combined+solar+thermal+and+pv