BIPV solar facade on high-rise building to produce 58 MWh annually


Dominion Properties turned its vision into reality by transforming a brick façade into a generative asset. The US real estate company installed a 25 m solar array was installed on the side of the company’s seven-story building near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with the support of Arch Solar. The array, which is now operational, is expected to produce about 58 MWh of electricity annually and will help defray the cost of electricity for tenants in the office building.

“Arch Solar covered the building facade was covered with 120 solar modules with an output of 450 W each, which were provided by Chinese manufacturer ZNshine,” a spokesperson from the company told pv magazine. The installation uses SE100k inverters and P960 optimizers provided by Israel-based manufacturer Solaredge. The optimizers are intended to overcome shading from neighboring buildings.

“Solar represents a huge market opportunity for commercial office locations,” explains Mike O’Connor, Co-Founder of Dominion Properties. “Being an office building – where typical working hours are when the most energy is used – a proportion of the building’s energy will come from solar. This means our tenants can enjoy savings on their energy bills, particularly important today as the cost of energy continues to skyrocket. This project is the first of many, and we hope that it will encourage other developers to make use of otherwise wasted space on high-rise buildings by embracing solar as a clean, cost-saving energy source.”

Attaching traditional solar modules on the side of a high-rise building takes some innovation and Arch Solar used masonry anchors to secure the modules to the side of the building in an array that’s 25 m high by 23 m wide. Because the building is in a populated area, the challenge was to avoid reduced output due to shading from surrounding buildings. Arch Solar attached SolarEdge’s power optimizers to the modules technology as well as three SolarEdge Inverters with Synergy Technology to ensure maximum power generation.

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“This far North in Milwaukee, the ideal installation for modules is at a 23° angle for maximum sun exposure and to help snow clear. However, for wall installations such as the vertical high-rise array with Dominion Properties, this is a more complex challenge, as the modules need to be mounted at a 90° angle. If you don’t want to lose power efficiency, then really SolarEdge’s inverters and Power Optimizers are the only choice,” said JD Smith, head of business development at Arch Solar. “For Dominion Properties, maximizing power generation to ensure maximum savings for tenants was a non-negotiable, so having access to this technology is what made this project possible.”

Smith noted that the Synergy inverters can be oversized by up to 200%, so Dominion has the option to add more modules without additional investment in power electronics.

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