Green technology takes center stage at 19th Glasstec

Christa Thoben

Solar technology and design took center stage at the Glasstec trade fair Oct. 24-28 at the Düsseldorf fairgrounds in Germany. More than 54,000 visitors from 84 countries had opportunities to learn about product developments from more than 25 exhibitors that brought new solar technologies to the show, and to attend about 20 seminars dedicated to energy-saving products and architecture.

The show’s green focus helped it earn recognition from Christa Thoben, minister of economic affairs and energy for the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Thoben spoke during the Oct. 24 opening ceremony for Glasstec 2006 and the special show Glass Technology Live.

“Glass changes architecture and urban development. … We can use it to ensure sustainability, and as the minister of energy, I take this very seriously,” Thoben said. “Glass can make a large contribution to tap into this efficiency potential, and it opens new avenues people could only dream about in the past.”

More than 25 solar technology exhibitors demonstrated the lastest photovoltaic developments and products, such as those pictured above.

A series of presenters during the Oct. 26 symposium titled Glass and Energy warned that architects and owners need to work carefully to integrate solar technologies into building at the design phase. Architects including Stefan Behling, a professor at the University of Stuttgart, said integration of solar technology will fail if the public views photovoltaics as ugly and “negative architecture.”

“Be aware in the long run, photovoltaics will only stand ground if seen as a serious component of buildings,” Behling said. “Do not attach photovoltaics wherever you can. Always think about how you can blend it into architecture.”

Building owners should not just retrofit existing buildings with solar modules, Behling said.

Architects should also consider using photovoltaics in more decorative applications, said Andreas Hinsch, project leader in dye solar cells at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in Germany.

Dye solar cells use a silk screen process to create custom designs, colors and varying levels of transparencies onto individual photovoltaic modules. “[The dye solar cells] achieve different optical effects that open up many decorative applications of PV,” Hinsch said. “We can incorporate graphic design, color shades and alternate between transparent and opaque without interrupting the photovoltaic effects.”

Read more about Glasstec 2006 in this past week’s edition of e-glass weekly and in the December issue of Glass Magazine.