Atkins begins building PV research

Global design and engineering consultancy Atkins has begun a research project to determine the performance of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels for building applications in the Middle East.

Test rig aimed at proving use of PV panels.
Test rig aimed at proving use of PV panels.

Global design and engineering consultancy Atkins has begun a research project to determine the performance of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels for building applications in the Middle East.

The firm has set up a solar panel test rig in Dubai in order to measure a range of climatic factors such as temperature, humidity, dust collection and wind speeds, which cannot be simultaneously assembled via practical lab tests or theoretical satellite readings. The rig will be placed at height and be adjusted to mimic the range of orientations used in real building related applications.

A team of sustainability experts, architects and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Accredited Professionals led by architect Ronak Gawarwala, will carry out the research. "The Middle East currently lacks verifiable data on how solar panels of different technologies perform in this climate under different orientations and cleaning regimes," explained Gawarwala. "This will compare the relative commercial value in the long run," he added.

"We hope to understand the efficiency and performance of the solar panels in local conditions and we will be simulating various applications on a building, for example if used as a facade or sun shade in a north or south-facing direction.

The data will be collected and analysed in detail over a 12 month period in co-operation with a number of PV panel technologists and manufacturers. The results will then be ratified and presented in a technical paper that is due to be published by Atkins and the British University in Dubai (BUiD). Atkins will also use the findings to make calculated recommendations to existing and potential clients.

Ronak added: "Our data will also be collected in time to be able to make recommendations and implement this technology in key projects such as The Lighthouse and the Dubai Promenade, where the client is very determined to achieve a high sustainability rating for the building.

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