Aesthetic Solar Integration
Aesthetic Solar Integration
With an increasing public interest in solar energy technologies and a growing awareness regarding environmental problems such as global warming, combined with the endless amount of energy the sun gives us, solar energy technology has evolved rather quickly in the past decade.
Apart from fossil fuels and nuclear power, solar energy is a viable source of renewable energy with enough technical potential to cover a large part, or even the complete quantity of our energy needs.
In comparison with fossil fuels and nuclear power, solar energy is a more sustainable energy source although there are some concerns regarding rare metals being used in today’s solar technology, e.g. indium, silicon, gallium etc. These metals are so far required to transfer solar energy into electricity.
In order for solar energy to be competitive on the energy market it has to be reliable, easy to install, cost effective, but also aesthetically appealing. These items cover the main part of my thesis. E.g. rigid solar panels as we know them don’t always fit into practical situations such as small rounded surfaces. I think we could also agree on the fact that a massive amount of blue/black solar panels, would ruin the sight of a lovely pittoresque Italian village. Even though solar energy could be quite useful here.
As we all know, the energy output per m2 is a lot lower for solar panels than it is for nuclear and fossil energy. This means a larger surface is required to produce the same power output. In the countryside where a lot of open space is available, this is not as much of a problem as it is in densly populated areas. This is where the practical and aesthetical aspects as mentioned before play their part.
I assume that by now, you can see why I ask myself if there are any solutions to this problem and if yes, what would the practical and technical consequences be?
In this thesis, I will describe how I used an unexpected tool from a small and expanding Canadian company as a test case for the installation of flexible solar panels for different applications.
Our world is changing and it’s changing fast.
There’s no doubt that energy plays a big role in this process and will probably be the factor with the biggest influence when it comes to the destiny of this planet and its people.
This is why early 2013 I decided to study this subject and eventually graduate in.
My name is Maurits Dierick and I’m a student in Energy Technology at the Tomas More department of the Catholic University of Leuven (KUL), Belgium.
The final stage of the final year of our professional bachelor includes writing a thesis and do an internship in a company or organization that has a relationship to energy of some kind.
Since it makes no sense to try and make this planet a better place if you have no idea what it looks like, I decided to go on an international internship. My first choice was Canada because it still has a very large pristine wilderness and is investing heavily in renewable energy.
Unfortunately this turned out to be a very difficult path to tread which is why, in the end, I had to appeal to a distant cousin of my father, who owns an electric boat rental company in Vancouver, Canada.
Jonathan, the company owner, was very happy to help me out and I would like to thank him for making this possible.
I would also like to thank mr. Jef de Schutter, mr. Rob van Dun, mr. Erik Mondelaers, mr. Peter Alen and mrs. Sofie Mols for their collaboration and expertise.