Task 56
Task 56
SHC Task 56

Building Integrated Solar Envelope Systems

Solar Energy Harvesting Systems

Commercial Systems

Kromatix

By Rafic Hanbali, Swissinso SA, Switzerland

Product Description

Brief Concept Description

Kromatix modules are BIPV panels available in different sizes and colours. The physical vapor deposition on solar glass with specific atomic designs allows to produce coloured solar glass that can be coupled with any type of PV technology. The treatment of the outer glass surface results in diffused reflection, which prevents glare effects, masks PV cells and bus bars and offers a pleasant visual effect. The modules are designed for a full integration on buildings’ facades and roofs, and guarantee high aesthetics, efficiency and durability.


Figure 16. Kromatix modules, CIGS solar cells, grey and gold.

Architectural and Technological Integration into the Envelope

Kromatix panels are fully integrated in the buildings’ envelope and replace traditional façade materials with the additional benefit of producing electricity from solar energy. Kromatix panels are cut-to-size for each project so to guarantee a full geometrical design flexibility. Kromatix modules are available in a variety of colours (grey, blue, bronze, brass etc.) and offer a very eye-appealing appearance as they seem to change in colour based on the viewing angle, providing to viewers a pleasant dynamic effect. Durability and maintenance costs are  the same as those  of a normal passive glass façade.

The design of the modules is studied so that functional and performance requirements imposed by both construction regulations (for example fire regulations, glass thickness, wind load) and PV regulations are met. BIPV norms are written or in adaptation in different countries.  Kromatix panels are installed as normal passive façade elements on a metallic sub-structure that supports the single envelope elements. The electrical cables need for the operation of the collectors are fixed to the sub-structure. The BIPV installation is completed by the connection to a solar inverter and an electricity meter. 


Figure 17. Kromatix installation at Copenhagen International School in Copenhagen, Denmark.


Figure 18. Kromatix installation on the fa├žade of a kindergarten in Dubai, UAE.


Figure 19. Redevelopment of a coal silo in Basel, Switzerland.

SWOT Analysis

Strengths

  • It enables to harvest solar radiation and produce electricity with a high conversion efficiency
  • It substitutes the normal passive facades for a modest additional cost
  • It has a very eye appealing appearance
  • Maintenance and durability are close to that of a passive glass facade
  • It has proven to be a good investment (excellent ROI)
  • Electricity is produced directly on site and no longer needs to be transferred from far production sites

Weaknesses

  • The investment cost is higher compared to passive solutions, which is a key factor for certain areas in the world
  • The design phase for buildings is longer than for non-integrated solar solutions, such as roofs or ground-mounted solutions 

 
Opportunity

  • The market for this solution is large, as it can be applied to both new and refurbished buildings
  • The legislation for green buildings imposed by more and more countries can boost the use of this kind of solutions 

 
Threats

  • Solar envelopes encounter barriers in entering the construction industry market due to a lack of knowledge of the main actors (architects, contractors etc.) on how to handle installation, static calculations and electrical connections
  • In certain countries, the legislation relevant to BIPV is not clear with regard to both construction-related aspects (wind load, fire regulations etc.) and electrical connection possibilities (on grid, self-consumption and net-metering)
  • Competition from other technologies (solar glass with colouring pigments) is starting to show 

Lessons Learned

  • The type of PV technology to be used may change from project to project (crystalline, back-contact, CIGS, CdTe, half-cells, smart-wire etc.) as the most convenient solution is realized. A key feature of Kromatix is it is about transforming the glass and thus it can be coupled with any PV technology and even with passive dummy modules installed in non-productive areas of the building.
  • Clients show to be more sensitive to some arguments than others. From the past projects, it is found that generally speaking the priorities are usually aesthetics of the solution, possibility to create a green building (can be mandatory by law), costs and energy efficiency. This order can change case by case, also in reference to the geographic region.

Further Reading

Comany website: https://www.swissinso.com/