Africa supplies OPV electricity
2015-09-29 12:00

World’s largest building-integrated OPV system at the African Union Peace and Security Building in Addis Ababa

Nuremberg, Germany: In collaboration with the leading manufacturer of steel cable and mesh constructions, Carl Stahl Architektur GmbH, and material supplier Merck KGaA, OPVIUS GmbH (formerly Belectric OPV) has developed for the African Union a unique energy-generating shade sail in the shape of the African continent – which also serves as the logo of the African Union. The active solar shade sail forms the focal point of the new Peace and Security Building of the African Union in Addis Ababa – a project managed by the GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH) and implemented with the aid of local construction companies.

The combination of flexible organic solar modules from OPVIUS (formerly Belectric OPV) and a stainless steel cable construction from Carl Stahl has allowed the realisation of a solar project of this magnitude for the very first time. The complex system, measuring approx. 25 x 20 metres overall, consists of 445 individual transparent blue modules, using Merck’s lisicon® OPV active material, and held in place by a sophisticated cable mesh construction directly underneath the membrane dome above the Peace and Security Building’s interior. The translucency of the modules makes for approx. 75% light transmission for the overall roof surface. Furthermore, thanks to the OPV modules, the shade sail supplies sufficient electricity to power the LED lighting system inside the building.

The completion of the shade sail as part of the Peace and Security Building means that OPVIUS (formerly Belectric OPV) has realised its first follow-up project since equipping the German Pavilion at the Expo 2015. As in Milan, the almost unlimited design possibilities offered by the flexible solar cells in the SOLARTE range have also been a convincing factor in Addis Ababa. This flexibility of shape and colour is attributable to the manufacturing process developed by OPVIUS (formerly Belectric OPV). Here, printing and coating procedures team up with laser structuring to open up unprecedented options in terms of shape and design. The procedure is highly scalable and is based on classic industrial processes.

“This additional, highly prestigious project finally marks our arrival on the market with our design-oriented photovoltaics for use in the building sector,” Hermann Issa, Director of Business Development and Sales of OPVIUS (formerly Belectric OPV), reports. “This project shows once again the varied possibilities offered with regard to design, transparency, flexibility and colour which can be fully developed and implemented by the use of solar modules from OPVIUS. Thanks to the innovative stainless steel cable mesh products from Carl Stahl, even architectural elements of this size appear weightless and seem to float.”

“Despite the extreme complexity of the project, installation was easy to carry out. Installation scaffolding or hydraulic platforms, such as those generally used to assemble building sections of this size, were not needed for this project. This was due to the extremely light OPV membranes which make construction and installation so quick and easy,” as Luca Casati, head of installation at Carl Stahl and installation supervisor in Addis Ababa, also points out. “The ability to install a system of this size in just five days using mainly local personnel is an indication of the unbelievable potential of combining OPV with steel cable constructions.”

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