Photovoltaic cells designed to blend in with terracotta roofs

David Eldridge
EUROPEAN PLASTICS NEWS

Published: June 3, 2013 11:15 am ET
Updated: June 3, 2013 11:30 am ET

Image By: Wegalux SpA Wegalux SpA injection molds its Wegalux tiles to integrate seamlessly with Italy's terracotta rooftops

Related to this story

Topics Sustainability, Construction, Injection Molding

The black uniformity of photovoltaic (PV) cells is an increasingly common sight on the rooftops of European buildings. They are a sign of our growing desire for renewable energy, but their appearance has not been welcomed in regions where traditional tiling is valued.

In Italy, which is famous for its terracotta rooftops, Wegaplast SpA has answered the problem with a plastic roof tile with integrated PV cells which is colored to match traditional ceramic tiles.

Wegaplast, based in Toscanella di Dozza, near Bologna, injection molds its Wegalux tile in Luran S, Styrolution's UV-stabilized acrylonitrile styrene acrylate (ASA) copolymer. The Wegalux tile comprises the molded housing and a solar module with two polycrystalline cells. The tile is the same size as a normal tile and can be integrated seamlessly into new or existing roofs.

Ugo Rigon, sales director of Wegaplast's Wegalux division, said: "The PV system can be applied to any sloping or ribbed roof that has Marseille terracotta tiles, which are very common in Italy. Our Wegalux tile is the perfect way to obtain energy from sunlight – even in historical districts and places where it is essential not to obstruct the local scenery."

Styrolution, based in Germany, worked closely with Wegaplast to ensure UV-resistance and weathering performance would enable the tile to withstand the Italian weather. The Luran S grade has high dimensional stability and good resistance to temperature fluctuations.

Luran S grades and their blends with polycarbonate have been impact-modified with acrylic ester rubber, making them suitable for components that are exposed to rain, wind and weather.

Marko Blinzler, product manager, specialties, at Styrolution, said: "As well as being resistant to sunlight, our product also withstands adverse weather conditions, thus offering optimal solutions to even the most demanding architects, designers and builders in terms of surface quality."

The need to meet aesthetic requirements was crucial for Wegaplast.

Rigon said: "Luran S' aesthetic qualities were a decisive factor for us, as Styrolution was able to provide us with the exact shade we needed to make our solar tiles fit in harmoniously with non-PV ones. This pre-colored solution saves us time and costs."

Volker Pieper, Styrolution's business development manager with responsibility for the construction market, said: "The real driver was to integrate a solar cell into the normal design of a house."

He told European Plastics News: "The basic idea was to make the solar cell 'disappear' on the roof, so it does not disturb the aesthetic of Italian villages with black solar cells, but instead it is integrated into the shape and color of existing tiles."

The PV cells are easy to mount on any roof because they are part of the tiles.

A major challenge for outdoor applications is color change over the lifetime of the product's use. ASA has good resistance to yellowing and Styrolution also supplies UV protection packages that are added to Luran S.

For the Wegalux tile, Styrolution conducted xenon tests which simulated 10,000 hours of sunlight exposure. Testing has continued to gather data for longer periods.

The Wegalux plastic tiles will be mounted close to ceramic ones. It is likely that after a large number of years there will be some color deviation as the two materials age in different ways and the shades of terracotta start to vary. But Styrolution does not think this will be significant.

"We believe the color deviation will be acceptable and it will be small enough that you can combine ceramic and plastic on one roof," said Pieper.

He said that after five years of exposure to sunlight, Styrolution expects the tile's color deviation to have a dE value below 5 in the CIELAB color space system. A value above 5 indicates a visible difference in color.

Styrolution is supporting Wegaplast as it develops the second generation of Wegalux tiles, which aim to be more efficient. The first generation already achieves a good performance – producing 1kWp of electric energy requires 10 square meters of Wegalux roofing, equivalent to 128 tiles.

Luran S is targeted at a number of sectors, including automotive exterior parts. In the housing and construction sector, Styrolution is seeking out niche applications. Pieper said the company's targets in the sector are linked to special outdoor applications which are still in development.


Comments

Photovoltaic cells designed to blend in with terracotta roofs

David Eldridge
EUROPEAN PLASTICS NEWS

Published: June 3, 2013 11:15 am ET
Updated: June 3, 2013 11:30 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Vinyl siding's lead slips, but industry pushing back

July 29, 2014 2:04 pm ET

Vinyl siding continues to be the top cladding choice for home builders and remodelers but fiber cement is gaining ground — at an alarming rate...    More

Image

One51 adding injection molder Straight to its bin molding portfolio

July 29, 2014 10:12 am ET

Dublin-based One51 plc has had its purchase of British trash bin maker Straight plc cleared by the United Kingdom's Competition and Markets Authority.    More

Image

Who are the fastest growing pipe, profile and tubing extruders?

July 28, 2014 3:09 pm ET

Question: What's the word on this week's Plastics News annual ranking of the top Pipe, Profile and Tubing extruders in North America? Answer: Up....    More

Image

Australian trade group battles non-compliant PVC pipe fittings

July 28, 2014 2:19 pm ET

An Australian plastics industry association is battling against imported, non-conforming PVC pipe fittings, but is stymied by a convoluted web of...    More

Image

Bioplastics maker wins government funding

July 25, 2014 12:13 pm ET

Canadian bioplastics maker Solegear Bioplastics Inc. has won $1.6 million in funding from the government-sponsored Western Innovation Initiative (WINN...    More

Market Reports

Plastics Recyclers Data Report & Directory

This exclusive MS Excel database contains all the companies from Plastics News' ranking of top North American Recyclers and Brokers by reprocessed volume and also includes a directory with materials processes, services offered and company contact information. Data is based on primary research by PN editorial staff.

Learn more

2014 Injection Molding Industry Report

GROWTH, OPPORTUNITY IN SIGHT FOR INJECTION MOLDERS IN 2014

In the wake of the economic turbulence earlier in this decade, molders today find themselves in much better shape. Molders are gaining a competitive advantage by investing in people, equipment and seeking inroads into new markets on a global scale.

Growth in the injection molding industry is going to be driven by low financing costs and a continued move to reshore some business.

Learn more

Shale Gas Market - Analysis of North American Region

This report highlights the impact of shale-based natural gas on the North American plastics market and features an in-depth analysis of production trends in the United States during 2013 and a forecast for 2014 and beyond.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events