Solar tracking has been around for quite some time; you know the mechanism by which photovoltaic panels orient themselves toward the sun at all times for increased energy production. Now, a team of architects from Portugal has designed a series of innovative homes that utilize the same technique of solar tracking to harvest substantial amounts of energy from the sun. Inspired by the movements of sunflowers, architect Guilherme Silva has constructed spectacular rotating homes that follow the sun throughout the day, generating five times the power they actually consume.
First introduced at Madrid’s Solar Decathlon, the Casas em Movimento concept is based on sustainability, innovation and self-sufficiency. Apart from rotating solar panels, the house itself is designed such that it is capable of turning in the direction of sunlight. This setup, according to Silva, drastically increases the quantity of solar power absorbed, resulting in the production of over 25,000 kWh of electricity per year. The amount is five times more than the energy needed to run the house. Speaking about the project, the team said:
The sunflower effect is created by combining two motions: the rotation of the building itself, of 180° throughout the day, and the rotation of the photovoltaic roofing hood, to ensure an inclination of 90º of this surface relative to the sun’s position (angle that optimizes PV production).
The dwelling’s solar tracking system consumes the same amount of power as six 60 watt bulbs running for a total of one hour every day. As Silva points out, the rotating movements of the structure’s roof hood also help optimize the effects of light and shade, reducing solar gain during the summer months. This in turn brings about an 80-percent decrease in cooling-related costs. The opposite happens in winter, during which the mobile hood aligns itself along the same axis as the building’s upper section, thus enhancing solar gain. The dwelling’s interior layout changes with such movements. The architects explained:
For instance, in the morning, the kitchen can be smaller, as 21st century families’ daily routine seldom allows everyone to have breakfast together; by night, it can fuse with the living room, allowing the family to spend time together at the end of the day while cooking/eating dinner.
In Portugal, sunshine duration varies from 9 hours during winter to nearly 15 hours in summer. The residence’s movements can be manually controlled by the home owner, which on an average takes around 12 minutes to complete. According to Silva, the rotation won’t cause any physical distance inside the house. Currently priced at approximately $6,917 per square meter (about € 6,387), the rotating homes will soon be available at much lower costs. Silva added:
Our strategy is to continue to optimize the technology and all processes, so that we can in the future reach broader market segments at lower costs. Our long-term objective is to reach the same price for square meter as conventional buildings.
To know more about Casas em Movimento, click here.