Google has given itself a goal of operating entirely on carbon-free energy by 2030. To reach that goal, they're looking for ways to maximize the amount of solar energy their buildings can capture.
As Google expands their Silicon Valley campus, the design for the new additions includes a large, canopy-like roof structure that's not a good fit for traditional rectangular solar panels. Instead of designing the building first and then adding solar panels later, they wanted to integrate solar into the design of the buildings from the start, which is known as building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV).
What Google created is something they're calling the "dragonscale" solar skin, a first-of-its kind solar design that includes 90,000 silver solar panels with the capacity to generate nearly 7 megawatts of energy.
Google and SunStyle Create Dragonscale Solar Roof Tiles
The dragonscale solar roof was created in partnership with SunStyle, and uses a highly textured prismatic glass shingle with a unique coating technology. That coating gives the overlapping panels a unique sparkle, and earned the name ‘dragonscale’.
Together, the texture and coating help to reduce the reflective glare that can be a problem for drivers and pilots when solar panels cover such a large structure. In addition, the prismatic nature of the glass helps to ‘trap’ sunlight that would normally escape from traditional flat solar panels, improving their efficiency.
In addition to the unique appearance of the dragonscale solar panels, the pavilion-like rooflines of Google's new buildings let them capture the power of the sun from multiple angles, and generate power during an extended amount of daylight hours compared to solar panels on a flat roof. This helps to flatten the demand "duck curve" and generate roughly 40% of the building's energy needs from solar power.
Get Solar On Your Roof
While dragonscale solar is cost-prohibitive for most residential applications, you can still get all the benefits of solar power with a more modest design. To see what size system is right for your home, get started today with a Free Solar Design and find out how much you can save by going solar.