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Transparent PV-based greenhouse takes shape in Australia

Western Australia-based solar glass developer ClearVue has commenced installation of its transparent solar PV glazing panels at what will be the world’s first clear solar glass greenhouse.

From pv magazine Australia

ClearVue has begun installing the company’s transparent solar PV integrated glass units (IGU) on-site at the $7.45m grains research precinct at Perth’s Murdoch University.

The greenhouse will utilise ClearVue’s transparent solar glass technology, which is designed to preserve glass transparency while generating electricity. Data supplied by the company indicates the technology delivers a minimum of 30 watts per square metre while maintaining 70% transparency.

The IGUs feature solar PV cells around the edges of each unit. The units incorporate a nanoparticle interlayer and spectral-selective coating on the rear external surface, which allow much of the light to pass through but redirects infrared and UV light to the edge of the IGU, where it is harvested by solar cells.

ClearVue CEO Ken Jagger said the company expects the greenhouse will generate greater market awareness of its building-integrated PV (BIPV) technology when it becomes operational.

“We are starting to see strong interest globally for the ClearVue product from greenhouse suppliers, growers and other protected cropping end-users,” he said.

“We expect the fully constructed greenhouse to lead to an even greater market awareness of our technology and product.”

The main construction of the supporting greenhouse structure was completed in December and the installation of glazing is expected to be finished within the coming weeks ahead of commissioning with plant trials due to start in March or April.

The greenhouse is being built adjacent to two recently completed polycarbonate research greenhouses that form part of a larger research precinct.

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The project is the first commercial-scale demonstration of ClearVue’s PV IGU technology in a protected-cropping agriculture setting and the company is confident it will perform well.

ClearVue’s data sheet indicates traditional greenhouses experience a temperature range of +/-6° from optimum temperature while its technology delivers a temperature range of +/-2° from the optimum temperature, providing an increased growth rate of up to 20-30%.

“We look forward to updating the market once the greenhouse is commissioned in the next few months, and as the larger research aspects of the project progresses,” Jagger said.

When work began on the greenhouse in December, Jagger said the project marked a “major milestone for the company”.

Jagger said the trial results would not only help facilitate the commercial application of the technology across protected-cropping agriculture markets, but also across high-rise commercial buildings.

While BIPV is yet to enjoy the same widespread deployment as building-applied PV (BAPV), it has been identified by the Australian PV Institute (APVI) as one of five key avenues for increased market penetration of PV.

The APVI said the multi-functionality of BIPV meant it had huge potential.

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Source: pv magazine