SolaBlock™ is a Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) technology. SolaBlock™ walls are designed as a simpler, user-friendly approach to BIPV, providing owners with the ability to install and generate solar electricity in previously unacceptable locations.
Among many novel applications, SolaBlock™ systems can be used to:
- “Solarize” residential or commercial building walls, retaining walls, rights-of-way, garden walls, sound walls or any wall receiving sun for a good portion of the day.
- Harvest renewable energy from highway sound-walls, bridges, parking structures, railroad rights-of-way, property walls, or any other conventionally-walled location.
- Provide critical solar power to unattended buildings, signs, or off-grid buildings that would otherwise be susceptible to vandalism or theft.
- Provide secure power to critical buildings or shelters that may lose grid-power or conventional PV in hurricane-force winds.
- Enable substantial solar electric generation for "in-fill" buildings sited in complex urban settings.
- Provide autonomous solar electric vehicle charging stations at remote locations.
SolaBlock™ concrete masonry units (CMUs) can be integrated into almost any existing wall specification, since the blocks retain their original insulation, compression, smoke, and fire-rating capabilities.
SolaBlock™ walls are economically attractive because the expensive metal frames used for both mounting traditional PV materials in a framed module, and for mounting the modules to a building, are eliminated. There is some additional cost of wiring from block to block, but at a fraction of the cost of the aluminum and steel needed for conventional construction.
Vertically-oriented SolaBlock™ walls produce 50 to 70 percent of the energy produced by an optimally tilted PV array. However, performance can be augmented to similar levels with the placement of reflective materials (decorative white stone, for example) in front of the blocks. Simulations, such as PV-Watts can estimate your production.
SolaBlock™ walls can be included in many vertical elements of a building that would not otherwise be providing electric power to a building, therefore increasing the total energy production by the building--a key feature in achieving LEED status. Also, thermal contact between the PV and concrete in a SolaBlock™ system reduces high-temperature operation that degrades conventional PV systems.
SolaBlock™ walls are an excellent solar technology for schools because they can be viewed at ground level, and connections can be viewed indoors throughout the year. SolaBlock™ walls are highly vandal-resistant, and can be installed in urban environments where the risk of theft has previously hindered consideration of conventional photovoltaic systems. All electrical equipment of value is located behind the wall, making the systems unattractive for dismantling for theft of materials. The PV cells cannot be removed without their destruction, further eliminating attractiveness for theft (individual blocks can be repaired with a replacement kit).