Australian Made Solar Roofing Panels Provide Heat And Power

In an effort to bring Australia in line with an international zero-emissions building code, researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) are working on a system to better harness the power of solar energy to generate electricity and heating for homes.
A prototype rooftop solar power system developed by UNSW’s School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Engineering (SPREE) that combines photovoltaics with thermal technology has demonstrated the ability to produce warm air throughout winter. 
Unlike conventional PV systems with solar cells mounted on top of the roof of a house, the UNSW technology is designed to be integrated into roofing panels, allowing excess heat generated by the panels – which would otherwise be wasted – to warm the home.
The research is part of a series of ‘carbon-positive’ products that will be tested and further developed by the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Low-Carbon Living at UNSW later this year; aimed at bringing Australia in line with Europe and the UK, which plan to introduce a zero-carbon building code in 2016. 
Professor Deo Prasad, head of the CRC, says when it comes to lowering Australia’s carbon footprint, the biggest savings can be made in energy efficient buildings.
“The built environment is responsible for 40 per cent of energy use and Australia’s homes account for 16.5 per cent of our emissions in electricity use alone, without accounting for energy embodied during the production and disposal of building materials.”
The CRC’s associate professor Alistair Sproul, developer of a thermal air conditioner, says the idea behind carbon positive products is to begin paying back the greenhouse debt of a product once it is installed in a home.
“Instead of simply putting solar cells on top of regular roofs, they are integrated, so that the minute the metal roofing is installed, it starts to pay back its carbon debt by pumping power into the grid and providing warm air in the winter.”
The products will be tested from late 2012 in so-called “living laboratories”, one of which is located in the recently constructed Tyree Energy Technologies Building, at UNSW’s Kensington campus. 
The School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Engineering was also in the news recently after the School’s Professor Martin Green; Executive Research Director of ARC Photovoltaics Centre of Excellence was appointed a member of the Order of Australia (AM) on Australia Day for service to science.
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