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St Andrew’s Cathedral - Transparent Solar Panels

  • 2 min read
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New innovations in solar energy have been on the rise throughout the world and Magic Glass are proud to be quick implementers of such technologies. The St Andrew’s Cathedral project involved the installation of several transparent solar panels onto the roof of the 153 year-old heritage-listed building in Sydney’s city centre. ⁣

How do transparent solar panels work? And why not just stick to traditional solar panels? ⁣

Transparent solar panels have the added benefit of being almost completely transparent. They let natural light pass through and are therefore not much different to conventional glass in this regard. This means glass facades, atriums, canopies, roofs and even terrace floors can be manufactured using transparent solar panels with few aesthetic differences. ⁣⁣

Traditional solar panels, on the other hand, are opaque and bulky. You cannot see through them and they are far heavier, so they tend to get installed onto pre-existing structures such as roofs. ⁣

In order to possess the capability of generating solar energy whilst still allowing sunlight to pass-through, transparent solar panels are manufactured using clear photovoltaic (PV) glass. The components of the PV glass absorb UV waves, converting them into electricity. Clear photovoltaic glass, however, only harnesses a small portion of the solar spectrum. This is the portion that is invisible to the human eye, allowing for the visible portion of sunlight to pass through the glass. As these panels only capture a fraction of the solar energy, they are only 7% efficient whilst their traditional counterparts are usually around 15% efficient. This, however, is still far more energy efficient than conventional glass, which produces no energy at all. ⁣

Transparent solar panels also have the added benefits of having fantastic thermal and sound insulating properties, being low-cost, lightweight, aesthetically pleasing and an effective method in reducing your building’s carbon footprint. ⁣

The St Andrew's Cathedral Project ⁣

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This project involved the custom fabrication of toughened, laminated safety glass with an inbuilt Onyx Solar interlayer. This custom-made photovoltaic glass was then installed very carefully into the facade of the cathedral. ⁣

As St Andrew’s Cathedral is a heritage-listed building, special care had to be taken to ensure no damage was made to the historical building. This involved using an array of equipment such as cranes, ropes and elevated work platforms.⁣

Magic Glass is very proud to have had the opportunity to complete this project. Not only is it a huge step-forward in moving towards renewable energy and more sustainable practices in the construction industry, but it is also a demonstration of how heritage and renewable energy innovations can come together to build a more sustainable future.⁣

If you are interested in installing transparent solar panels into your building, contact the Magic Glass team for more information. ⁣⁣
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