Solar Innovation In Rooftop Set to Boom

Highlights :

Decomplicating the rooftop installation process, the GAF’s new solution may look simple beyond your imagination.

Solar Innovation In Rooftop Set to Boom

Rooftop solar has been a very popular choice in recent years for markets like the US and Australia, where they are being seen as solutions to not just lower emissions, but also secure energy for owners in difficult situations. In the last decade alone, in the U.S, the number of solar panels installed has gone up by 40%, while the cost to install them has dropped by more than 70%. Now, the US administration intends the country to generate almost half of its own electricity from the sun by 2050 (compared to only 4% in 2020).

A firm, GAF Energy has come up with a solution called Timberline Solar that promises to massively speed up installation time.

GAF Energy’s new offering is a solar shingle to create a solar roof. While the idea of a roofing product that can both generate energy and blend in with regular asphalt shingles has been around for decades with Tesla leading the way, what sets Timberline Solar apart is the fact that the company has access to materials, that many solar companies do not have. Simply because of its association with its sister company the roofing giant GAF. The offering will be the first of its kind solar product that a roofer can install. In India, we have of course had firms like Visaka Industries take a shot at the segment too, with its Atum range, but GAF promises even more simplicity, it seems.

The product can be installed with just a nail gun.  The new solar shingle can be incorporated with GAF shingles to create a solar roof, Martin DeBono, President of GAF Energy was quoted as saying.

Installation is typically the largest expense for residential solar energy systems. That is because roofs have to be checked, and in many cases, prepared to handle the solar structure. The structure has to be really strong to withstand natural events like storms  etc. Timberline’s solution, effectively makes it a matter of a few hours to set up a solar rooftop with little disruption, with enough prep of course.

In the US, the infrastructure bill that was recently passed included billions of dollars allocated for clean energy projects, building momentum for more innovation in the industry. Of many interesting innovations, that the global stage is set to witness, led by US, there is another one that deserves a mention.

In January 2021, five craftswomen from Mozambique and three designers from The Netherlands came together in Mozambique for a three-week design residency. This resulted in two prototypes: a lampshade that lights up in the dark, and a small handbag that charges a phone.

Consequently, one of the collaborators of the workshop, Van Dongen who plans the world’s first Solar Biennale later in 2022 is currently working with a Dutch textile architecture company called Tentech to develop a structural woven fabric with thin-film solar panels woven in.

They aim to develop a textile that can be used as a building material, so it has to be fire retardant and durable, too. “This opens up new applications for solar technology to be integrated in large tents and textile facades,” Dongen said. It would also help a solar-powered building look good, she was quoted.

For now, most commercial solar panels are designed to be attached to a rack that is secured to the ground or screwed directly into the roof. But an entirely new movement is emerging, where our buildings themselves become the panels. This is called Building Integrated Photovoltaics or BIPV.

Larger markets attract funding, and more innovation will follow funding. US has demonstrated that clearly. In 2020, venture capital investment in climate tech reached a record high of $16.4 billion. The average size of a climate tech deal almost quadrupled to $96 million in the first half of 2021, up from $27 million one-year prior, PwC said.

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