Urban Solar Projects: The New Solar Frontier

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Deutsche Bank recently installed a 122 kW solar array on its North American headquarters in New York City. The array is the largest PV system currently installed in Manhattan. And at 737 feet off the ground, it’s also the highest elevated flat solar panel system in the world. The system is expected to reduce carbon emissions by 100 metric tons per year.

While there are not currently many skyscrapers with integrated solar systems, there are many interesting designs and proposals for the future of urban solar.

One example is the Chicago Solar Tower by Zoka Zola Architects. The Solar Tower is designed to feature a facade of round solar collectors that are set up to move throughout the day to follow the sun, leading to more efficient solar production. It is a very striking design and definitely an interesting project, though it remains to be seen whether it will actually get built any time soon. 

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Existing buildings seem to have a better success rate in terms of adding solar power. The CIS tower in Manchester, England is an office skyscraper that was originally built in 1962. In 2004, the building began renovations to install 575.5 kW of building-integrated photovoltaic cells. The building now generates 180,000 kWh of electricity per year.

With new technologies like building-integrated PV cells, transparent solar windows, and many new innovative design proposals for urban solar development, it’s very likely we will see more green energy emerge within major cities throughout the world.