The widespread adoption of photovoltaics remains one of those looming questions in architecture. Despite the growing prevalence of PV-systems all of over the world, many onlookers are eager to see much, much more and at a much faster rate. With the operation of buildings accounting for almost 40% of the world’s overall energy consumption, the platform for energy reduction is inconceivably large, and as a result, expediency is key.
Aside from politics, issues that have historically slowed the sweeping integration of solar panels include their imposing aesthetic appearance and their steep costs. As a result, researchers are not only challenged with creating photovoltaic iterations that are incredibly efficient, but also cheaper and aesthetically pleasing. This has resulted in a large move towards building integrated systems, which harness photovoltaics as replacements for conventional building materials, such as roofs and façades, rather than as add-on elements. The ongoing mastery of these technologies will play a key role in the common adoption of photovoltaics throughout architecture.
One recent high-profile example includes Tesla’s solar roof tiles, which look astonishingly like every day, non-photovoltaic roof tiles. Elon Musk’s goal with this preeminent product, which went into production last year, was to create an attractive photovoltaic roof replacement method that could accommodate a wide array of architectural styles. Tesla achieved this by producing tiles out of tempered glass, with a color film and microscopic louvers that allow light to pass through to the Panasonic-made solar cells. According to Tesla, the high-performance glass is just as tough as steel.
Image courtesy of: architizer.com