Even though the future of financial incentives for clean energy technologies is uncertain at best, the interest in technologies that integrate the ability to generate electricity right into the buildings we occupy continues to grow. And that doesn't just mean solar.
I just got through reading about a building integrated wind power system that is running on the roof of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, using technology from Venger Wind.
Billed at the largest building integrated wind system in the United States, the installation uses 18 vertical axis wind turbines that are about 18.5 feet tall and start generating power at speeds of about 8.9 miles per hour. Each of the turbines has a generating capacity of 4.5 kilowatts, which isn't that much, honestly, but it IS enough to keep the operations of the new research tower running without power from the grid.
Venger is pushing for more small wind systems like this one (pictured above), which help reduce companies' dependence on expensive electricity that usually is produced by more carbon-emitting sources such as coal-fired power plants.
"The potential to provide wind energy at the point of use, within urban environments is a major paradigm shift from the typical large wind scenarios where multi-megawatt systems are forced to be installed farther and farther away from the populations where the energy is needed most," said Ken Morgan, chairman and chief marketing office for Venger Wind. More information about the company's approach can be found in the video below:
Shining Interest On Building-Integrated Solar
The push toward net-zero buildings is also helping increase interest in building integrated solar photovoltaic (BIPV) technology, which is now expected to drive more than $2.4 billion in revenue by 2017, according to a report by Pike Research. BIPV technologies will account for about 4.6 gigawatts (GW) in new capacity by that time, the research firm predicts.
For a hint as to the future of BIPV, consider a research project at the University of California at Los Angeles, which is focused on developing a transparent film that can be attached to existing glass or other surfaces. You might be able to use this substance on a car sunroof, on the back of your consumer electronics gadgets or on high-rise buildings to generate power, reports Bloomberg.
The Pike report lists a few company in particular to watch. They include:
- Dow Solar, which makes copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) solar tiles
- PowerFilm, which is working with French textile company Serge Ferrari on new silicon-based architectural fabrics
- Pythagoras Solar, which is developing innovative solar PV glass units
- DyeTec Solar, a partnership between glass producer Pikington North America and Dyesol, an Australian dye-sensitized cell (DSC) materials supplier
- Heliatek, which makes small molecule-based organic PV modules
- Solantro Semiconductor, which is developing integrated nano-inverter BIPV technology to boost energy harvest
- Tata Steel, which is developing DSC-coated steel roofing