SolSThore, Research into Building Integrated PV Systems

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SolSThore aims to enable massive deployment of solar energy in the context of Smart Cities. This requires a combination of highly efficient building-integrated PV (both on the level of energy yield and device reliability) and local storage by means of batteries. SolSThore wants to build up the required R&D capacity and human expertise in Flanders so as to serve the interest of local companies active in this field, to create new industrial fibre and to deliver leading results. Aesthetical and societal aspects are included in this research to ensure broad social acceptance.

Domain: Electrical systems, Energy storage, Cities in transition
Period: 01-06-2015 to 31-05-2018
Open project

SolsThore will develop enabling technologies for building-integrated PV and storage, ultimately to be validated in 2 demos: the façade integration of PV and commercial roof-integrated PV.

For the PV technology we focus on new interconnection technologies for both crystalline Si and thin-film PV modules which allow the manufacturing of highly efficient and reliable PV modules maximising the energy yield under non-stationary and non-homogeneous irradiation conditions.

The value of the locally generated energy is to be maximised by integrating it with local storage based on Li-ion battery technology. More specifically SolsThore will develop solid-state batteries which do not longer require liquid electrolytes. Such solid-state batteries bear the promise of higher energy density, improved reliability and, last but not least, better fire safety, a crucial condition for integration in the built environment. To serve this purpose, we will set up a testline for the realisation of small battery cells.

Since reliability is also heavily influenced by the battery management system, SolSThore will deliver significant efforts to realise hard- and software for a better State-of-Charge and State-of-Health insight.

In addition, SolsThore will revisit the idea of DC nanogrids to connect all these DC-devices (PV, storage, LEDs, ...).  This requires the development of highly-efficient, low-volume DC-DC convertors. We expect that the optimal topology and configuration of such DC-nanogrid is strongly context-depending (dimensions of the building itself and neighbouring buildings, irradiation, wind and temperature profiles, consumption profiles, grid conditions...). To verify and test different topologies and configurations, a test and validation infrastructure will be built up in the EnergyVille labs to enable the development and validation of improved energy yield prediction algorithms which are key to optimise the value of the locally produced electrical energy.

This project is a part of the Strategic Action Programme for the province of Limburg (SALK) and enables EnergyVille to become an even better integrated top research centre, with 1.400m² lab infrastructure, top-notch equipment, expert teams and 14 groundbreaking demos, developed in close collaboration with the local industry. This research will serve as a magnet for international industrial partners.

More specifically, we strengthen these three axes of our research:

  • SolSthore - highly integrated PV systems in buildings, connected with smart grids and combined with battery storage
  • GeoWatt - thermal networks of the 4th generation that bring local demand and heat and cold demand of large groups of users in balance
  • SmarThor - the techno-economic framework necessary to form CO2 neutral smart energy clusters integrating thermal and electrical energy alike.

This project is a cooperation by the University of Leuven, VITO, imec and the University of Hasselt. It receives the support of the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund ERDFFlanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship and the Province of Limburg.

Jef Poortmans - Scientific Director PV

+32 16 28 13 02
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