In what could be a game changer for the solar energy industry, a house in suburban Sydney, Australia has installed the world’s first building integrated solar system that generates electricity and heat. The rooftop array combines thin-film solar photovoltaic (PV) panels with a solar thermal duct system that warms and cools the air. The top layer produces electricity from the sun just as a normal PV panel would, while heat is trapped between the layers and distributed to the home.
Image via ARENA
Australian steel manufacturer Bluescope produced the $5 million integrated PV thermal system with government assistance via a $2.3 million grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). “Today we are witnessing an exciting new technology solution moving from the lab to be prototyped on everyday Australian rooftops for the first time,” said ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht. “These first installations are an important step as the technology moves towards commercialization and cost competitiveness with conventional rooftop PV.”
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The integrated solar system could eventually reduce installation and energy costs, improve building energy efficiency and reduce peak demand pressure on the power grid. Despite the project’s success, climate change-denying Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s right-wing administration wants to close ARENA as part of an all-out attack on clean energy.
+ Australian Renewable Energy Agency
Lead image via Renew Economy