Anew photovoltaic roofing solution that addresses the concerns regarding both the depletion of non-renewable energy resources and the necessity to cut down greenhouse gas emissions, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2), has been developed by Arval, a branch of France’s ArcelorMittal Construction.
Called Arsolar, the innovative solution integrates twin functions: that of generating photovoltaic electric power and of being an aesthetically-pleasing steel roof with good weatherability and mechanical integrity under wind loads.
Arsolar – which won the gold medal for innovation at the recent Batimat 2007 building exhibition held in Paris, France – also created a stir at the Big 5 show in Dubai last November, receiving “outstanding interest” from visitors to the company’s stand at the event, according to Peter Boehnlein, business support manager international operations of ArcelorMittal.
Developed to meet the new architectural and environmental challenges facing the industry, Arsolar is described as a complete building-integrated roofing system, providing a weatherproof structural roof as well as generating electric power from solar radiation.
“Given its long experience in creating steel roofing systems, it was quite clear to Arval has photovoltaic solar electrical energy would blend into its roofing patterns,” says a company spokesman.
Elaborating on the solution, he says: “The base of this technology is high-yield crystalline silicon. The main components – silicon and iron – are among the most plentiful of the earth’s material resources, just behind oxygen, and are reputed to be non-toxic and recyclable.
“The photovoltaic cells are assembled on specially-designed Arsolar profiled steel sheets, which are available in different colours. Each module is fully equipped with connection boxes and delivered with the cables, connectors and inverter. Special purlins are included in the system. For a better electrical efficiency, ventilation is provided on the underside of the modules as electicity production decreases with high temperature. The nominal power of a square metre of Arsolar is 75 Wc/sq m.”
“Arsolar is a simple way of making photovoltaic roofing since the photovoltaic modules together with the connecting boxes are linked up to the steel roll-formed elements in our manufacturing plants,” he continues. “Its foremost feature is ease of implementation during installation with roofing elements that you can lay all in one go compared to systems where you fit the support first and then the modules only after.”
Once assembled and connected, Arsolar panels change sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity. An inverter changes DC to alternating current (AC) and wires provide a path for electricity flow. A meter provides data to evaluate the amount of energy produced. The electricity then sent directed to the grid or stored in batteries if far from the grid.
Arsolar can be used on roofs with large or small surface areas both in renovation and newbuild application. The photovoltaic system can also be used as energy-producing wall cladding and sunscreen.
The building branch of ArcelorMittal, Arval also offers Globalroof, Globalwall and Globalfloor steel systems.