Until recently, solar panels were add-ons to buildings, ugly additions to rooftops. Increasingly, though, they're becoming integral to new buildings. Elon Musk has already announced solar roof tiles, which will cost the same as classy roof tiles already do, but will also produce electricity. And they really are quite beautiful. Now this school in Denmark has been clad in coloured solar panels.
Copenhagen International School's new building in the Nordhavn district features the largest solar facade in the world. The 12,000 solar glass panels can generate 300 megawatt hours of electricity per year, more than half of the school's annual energy needs. After much anticipation, the pre-K to 12th grade campus opened last month.
The unique sea-green hue of the panels was created by the research institute Ecole Polytechnique Federale in Lausanne (EPFL) after more than a decade of development. By using the process of light interference, the researchers achieved the tiles' distinctive color without using any pigments and without reducing energy efficiency.
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The further north you go, or rather the further you are from the equator, the closer to horizontal your solar panels must be to ensure you maximise electricity output. So, in the tropics, roofs are a perfect place to have solar panels, but in Denmark, having them on the side of the building facing the sun, is pretty effective. (The panels should be at the same angle as your latitude, and Denmark is roughly at 56 degrees north)
Of course, the panels will be producing much less power in winter. But that's the time wind speeds tend to be higher. For example, in 2014, January (mid winter in the northern hemisphere) had the highest production from wind farms (62% of electricity generated), July the lowest (23%). Right now, where I live in southern Victoria, the sky is overcast with showers and thunderstorms forecast for this afternoon, so my solar panels aren't producing much, but if I had a wind turbine, I'd be feeding power into the grid, as there is a strong southerly wind. At worst, wind and sun are uncorrelated, at best there is some negative correlation, especially seasonally. Add the backup from Norway's hydro and grid connections to the pan-European grid and it's doable, though my guess is that Denmark as a whole will still need some seasonal storage.