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Investigation of the energy performance of a novel modular solar building envelope

Ren, Gang; Zhao, Xudong; Zhan, Changhong; Jin, Hong; Zhou, Aishen


Gang Ren

Changhong Zhan

Hong Jin

Aishen Zhou


The major challenges for the integration of solar collecting devices into a building envelope are related to the poor aesthetic view of the appearance of buildings in addition to the low efficiency in collection, transportation, and utilization of the solar thermal and electrical energy. To tackle these challenges, a novel design for the integration of solar collecting elements into the building envelope was proposed and discussed. This involves the dedicated modular and multiple-layer combination of the building shielding, insulation, and solar collecting elements. On the basis of the proposed modular structure, the energy performance of the solar envelope was investigated by using the Energy-Plus software. It was found that the solar thermal efficiency of the modular envelope is in the range of 41.78–59.47%, while its electrical efficiency is around 3.51% higher than the envelopes having photovoltaic (PV) alone. The modular solar envelope can increase thermal efficiency by around 8.49% and the electrical efficiency by around 0.31%, compared to the traditional solar photovoltaic/thermal (PV/T) envelopes. Thus, we have created a new envelope solution with enhanced solar efficiency and an improved aesthetic view of the entire building.


Ren, G., Zhao, X., Zhan, C., Jin, H., & Zhou, A. (2017). Investigation of the energy performance of a novel modular solar building envelope. Energies, 10(12), 880.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 26, 2017
Online Publication Date Jun 30, 2017
Publication Date 2017-06
Deposit Date Jul 4, 2017
Publicly Available Date Jul 4, 2017
Journal Energies
Electronic ISSN 1996-1073
Publisher MDPI
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 10
Issue 12
Article Number ARTN 880
Pages 880
Keywords Modular solar building envelope; Photovoltaic/thermal; Integration; Energy efficiency
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is a copy of an open access article accepted for publication in: Energies (2017) v.10 issue 7.


Article.pdf (5.8 Mb)

Copyright Statement
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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