Facades that not only generate energy, but also capture heat. AFS Solar of Roden brought together clever techniques to create the facades, which provide substantial savings on energy bills.
Parent company AFS International has more than earned its spurs as a facade manufacturer. Worldwide, the Drenthe-based company supplies facade panels that adorn the largest and most prestigious buildings. The Johan Cruyff Arena, Los Angeles International Airport, Jameel Art Centre in Dubai; they all have facades from Roden. This is cause for satisfaction, but certainly not for resignation. AFS wants more. More sustainability, more good for the world, more savings.
''We have to learn to look further ahead,'' Rik Boon translates. He deals with the new branch AFS Solar for AFS. ,,That we could integrate solar cells in facade panels, we realized fairly quickly. Also that we could create all kinds of colors and patterns on them with a ceramic print. But we wanted even more.''
Both heat and energy
More or less by accident, Boon had been involved in the development of an aluminum panel that could both capture and dissipate heat using a sophisticated piping system. ,,We started merging those two inventions. The result is that we now offer unique facades that extract both heat and electricity.''
Because unburdening is becoming increasingly important, AFS Solar itself developed the entire technology of the energy management system around it. It works something like this: the generated energy and heat go to the heat pump via invisibly concealed pipes, which as a result requires much less of its own power to do its job.
AFS is already fully testing the facades. The preliminary conclusion is that with the facades, about 20 percent less power is needed in the building. Because the system also works the other way around - the facades can dissipate heat at night in summer - the savings in energy needed to run air conditioners is even greater.
Rik Boon: ,,We did calculations on a large building in Amsterdam. We were able to extract twice as much energy from the facades as what is now stated as the minimum in the Building Code.'' That's great, of course, and immediately the challenge. Boon: ,,It is difficult to convince builders to do something with this. It is too soon only about initial costs and not about revenues. That is a shame. It is clear that our system will generate money, but it does not yet fit into the mathematical models.''
One of the more important questions at this stage is: how best to market the unique panels? Through the installers, the construction companies, the architects? Or should consumers be appealed to directly, politicians? Is partnering with heat pump suppliers the answer, or should it be wholesalers?
''Those are interesting questions, which I am of course happy to think about,'' says Wibo van Wier. On behalf of the NOM he is account manager International at Ik Ben Drents Ondernemer. You shouldn't overestimate my role. Rik Boon and AFS are working on this very well. I am involved in sharpening the business plan and finding good partners. From my role I look internationally, of course.''
Van Wier is particularly impressed with the product that is constantly being developed technologically. ,,It is special that AFS has the knowledge to produce the panels from A to Z, including the technology that is needed. That way you get a total solution, and that is exactly what is increasingly in demand.''
Less energy consumption, less CO2 emissions, less noise from heat pumps and air conditioners, more comfort. The facade panels almost sell themselves. Rik Boon: ,,It's not that easy. But we are convinced that this is part of the future and are going full throttle with the development and the business plan.''