Since mid 2013, the lower section of the Vertigo Building has been the foundation for an outdoor research facility for so-called building-integrated solar energy: SolarBEAT (Solar Building Elements Application Testing). SolarBEAT is a joint venture between TU/e and SEAC (Solar Energy Application Center, an initiative of TNO, ECN and branch organization Holland Solar).
Within SolarBEAT, companies from the solar sector can test their ideas for innovative building-integrated solar energy systems in a realistic situation. For this purpose, six small buildings have been placed on top of Vertigo. Five of these buildings have sloped roofs – to mimic the attic of a typical Dutch terraced house. The sixth building has a façade available for testing. Moreover an extension of three more measurement positions is planned, which gives room to test solar applications on flat roofs, verandas, and other glass structures.
On each of these test buildings, one or more different Building Integrated PV (electricity) concepts as well as hybrid-PVT (PhotoVoltaic Thermal; electricity and heat) systems are being tested. The concepts are analyzed on their physical and electrical integration in the building envelope. Measurements involve the PV performance, which is e.g. the kWh-yield of every minute, as a function of the solar irradiance in that specific minute. Moreover, all relevant building aspects are monitored by using a variety of sensors like hot-wire anemometers, thermocouples, etcetera.
The analysis of the measurements is partly in the hands of graduating students, PDEng trainees or PhD candidates of TU/e and other institutions. There is considerable interaction with research and teaching activities of the TU/e Department of the Built Environment (unit Building Physics and Services and the chair of Building Performance), in view of the focus on building-integrated technologies.
At the moment, all existing six measurement positions (buildings) at SolarBEAT are occupied with different projects. However, all running projects have an end date so this gives the possibility to keep on testing new building integrated solar power technologies and products.