Cell, an Australian architecture firm, has unveiled plans for a massive new project in Melbourne. The project includes an eight-story office building, called 550 Spencer, that will use a cutting-edge solar facade tech consisting of 1,182 solar panels to generate more electricity than it needs.

Not the same International School in Copenhagen, 550 Spencer’s sustainable design goes beyond simply incorporating solar panels on the facade. Instead, it will feature a glass-like facade that uses 1,182 integrated solar panels to collect energy from the Sun’s rays. Solar facades are still not uncommon, although they are not unheard of; according to Kennon, the project will result in the first solar façade building in Australia. However, since there were no panels available locally, the Australian company had to go to great lengths to make it, hiring the German company. lead to give them.

Glass-Like Solar Façade Exceeds Building's Electricity Needs
(Credit: Kennon)

Studio founder Pete Kennon explained:

“At the time, I was researching glazing products operating in Europe that consisted of photovoltaic cells inside the facade glass screen which is not like the common and ugly solar panels you see on roofs. We began discussions with a number of manufacturers only to discover they had no presence in Australia. We designed a building facade with the product, and I pitched the concept to the client. We partnered with a local glass distributor, George Fethers & Co, and flew product executives from Germany to meet us. We map solar performance from different facade modifications that optimize power production. “

Solar facade technology faces another challenge: it lacks a building safety certificate in Australia. Kennon decided not to give up and started shipping more than 40 panels. The company built a replica of the facade with help from Red Fire Engineers, an Australian company specializing in construction fire safety. It was fired to test its performance while the procedure was carefully documented. The project has moved forward with the fire evidence being hand built and now under construction.

Front of office building with solar facade
(Credit: Kennon)
Wood and exposed concrete will be used throughout Spencer's 550 offices.
Wood and exposed concrete will be used throughout Spencer’s 550 offices. (Credit: Kennon)

Despite making up only 1% of the Earth’s surface, large cities account for 75% of the world’s primary electricity consumption and account for 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The solar facade system will produce 142 kWp once it is operational. To put this into perspective, this is comparable to between 3 and 6 kWp in a typical solar panel setup for a home. A kilowatt peak (kWp) is the amount of electricity the system can produce under ideal conditions, such as a clear day. Kennon claims that this is enough to generate more electricity than the building needs and, in addition, prevent the release of 78.4 tons (70 tons) of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per year.

Another advantage of placing all the solar panels on the facade is that it frees up the rooftop area for a garden space that can be used by office workers. The strong expecting 550 Spencer will be completed by mid-2023.

Garden area
(Credit: Kennon)

Previously, researchers at the Free State and Ghent University have developed transparent solar panels that can be used as windows and cell phone screens.

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