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First 'solar skin' office building to be built in Australia

·2-min read
An eight-story office tower fully clad in solar panels will be built in Melbourne in 2023 (Neoscape)
An eight-story office tower fully clad in solar panels will be built in Melbourne in 2023 (Neoscape)

Construction of the first ever “solar skin” office block in Australia is set to begin next year, in what is being hailed as a landmark moment for renewable energy.

The $40 million (AUD) building in Melbourne will be fully clad with 1,182 solar panels, which will help to eliminate an estimated 70 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year.

The solar panels have the same thickness as a regular glass facade, using a “thin-filim PV module” to harvest enough electricity from the Sun’s energy to power the eight-story building.

Project manager Neoscape said the building will “set a new benchmark in ESD (environmentally sustainable design) for commercial officie buildings, allowing integrated solar facades on buildings across Victoria”.

Manufactured by the German firm Avancis, the Skala solar skin is available in various lengths and colours and can be used on a wide range of buildings and construction projects.

“Thanks to proprietary colour technology, the spectrum ranges from a discreet, silky-smooth matte look to intense, light-dependent colour gradients across the entire facade,” the company’s website states.

The technology has already been used on public, commercial and residential buildings in Europe, but this is the first time it will be done in Australia – one of the world leaders in solar power.

An even bigger 49-story office tower is also being planned in Melbourne for 2026, as part of Australia’s ambition to be carbon neutral by 2050.

“We want this building to be a symbol of innovation and sustainability of how th built environment can be part of the climate solution,” architect Pete Kennon told PV-magazine.

“The fact a building can harness the sunlight from its own skin – it sounds like something you dreamed of, or you saw in a cartoon... We did not invent the product but we’ve invented the way it can come to our country, and our country is such an enormous market because of the access to sunlight.”

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