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Old 03-23-2011, 03:23 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Sears Tower to Get Solar Makeover

I think this is a fantastic idea:

DailyTech - Company Poised to Blanket Former Sears Tower With 2 MW of Solar Panels
"A certain darkness is needed to see the stars" ~ Osho

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Old 03-23-2011, 03:46 PM   #2 (permalink)
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This is quite cool! Harvest energy and reduce the need for it at the same time.
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Old 03-24-2011, 10:08 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Just to put some numbers to this

* The average for office space is 13.4 kWh electricity use per square foot per year.

* The Sears Tower contains 4.5 Million square feet of floor space

* Therefore it uses 60 Million kWh of electricity per year

* In Chicago, a solar panel will average 3.5 hours of peak power per day due to night-time, clouds, and sun angle.

* Therefore the panels will output 1277 hours per year x 2000 kiloWatts = 2.55 Million kWh per year.

* Allowing for some reduction of cooling needs from the new windows, the panels will supply around 5% of the needs of the building.

* If we compare to a suburban office park with a two story building and rooftop solar panels, we need 13.4 x 2 = 26.8 kWh per square foot of rooftop.

* At 50% area fill (there is other stuff on roofs, and you need walkways for maintenance), and 15% efficiency of panels, you can produce 7.5 watts peak power per square foot of total roof area.

* In Chicago, that yields 9.6 kWh per year, or about 36% of the electricity needs of the building. In a sunnier location, with higher roof coverage, and more advanced multi-junction panels, you might get to 100% of building needs.

So for the Sears Tower, the panels will help a bit with the electric bill for the building. It's just a frikking huge building and needs a lot of power. In more spread out areas, rooftop panels can make a serious difference. WalMart, for example, who has a lot of rooftop, is installing solar panels on 30 of their stores, and will get enough electricity to power 30% of the building's needs:

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Old 03-24-2011, 10:49 AM   #4 (permalink)
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This is dumb and yet another attempt to make Crystalline technology viable. The use of Amorphous Silicon or other thin film alternatives(cdte, nano crystalline hybrids, or CIGS) are really attractive for Building Integrated PV because it can replace architectural glass and uses a different spectrum of light extending the panel's period of operation to about 8-12 hours per day. While the efficiency tops out at around 9.9 percent, depending on the technology, the hours of operation makes thin film a better choice -- especially in Chicago where the irradiation levels are not optimal for Crystalline. On a watt per watt basis, a-SI will generate 25% more juice than crystalline technologies and it is not picky about the its installed position of the panels or light variables -- it just works.

I am fortunate to work with the team who pioneered the Thin Film deposition process more than 30 years ago and aided in the design process with Schott Solar to create the canopy system for the Stillwell Train Station in Coney Island.

Check it out -- the entire canopy is Thin Film glass (which can be made transparent)
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Old 03-24-2011, 10:53 AM   #5 (permalink)
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This is a neat install too -- 1.3MW in Tawain. Designed by Japanese architect Toyo Ito, the stadium incorporates 8,844 solar panels on the roof. The roof will generate enough energy to power the building’s 3,300 lights and two giant television screens.

World’s First 100% Solar-Powered Stadium >> MetaEfficient Review
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