Use the following date selectors to see the energy produced by our solar wall. The graphs describe the actual energy produced for use within the building and the overall irradiance on the wall (watts / surface area of wall). Read below for more details on Western Arctic Research Centre's solar wall installation.
The south-facing wall of the third floor of the Western Arctic Research Centre (WARC) is covered with a solar wall. During April 2013, WARC and ARI partnered with both Environment and Natural Resources and the Arctic Energy Alliance to install monitoring equipment and software that allows us to monitor the energy produced by the WARC solar wall.
A solar wall is a passive heating system that uses a renewable energy source – the sun – to warm the inside of a building. The solar wall itself is a perforated, black metal wall that’s installed over the south-facing exterior wall of a building, leaving an 8-inch gap between the exterior and solar walls. The air in the gap is warmed by the sun’s rays before being brought into the building by ventilation fans. The warmed air is then circulated throughout the building by the ventilation system and heating ducts. In turn, this pulls more outdoor air into the gap through the perforations in the solar wall. As long as the sun shines on the solar wall, this process repeats and warmed air is pulled into the building – reducing the need to heat WARC using power generated from non-renewable fossil fuels.
The sun is strongest, and solar wall efficiency is greatest, during the summer months. This is particularly true in the arctic, where the sun is above the horizon for many weeks in a row around the time of the summer solstice. If we weren’t able to turn off our solar wall, WARC would quickly become unbearably hot. Fortunately, solar walls are built with temperature controls that automatically shut off the warm air intake when the building temperature rises above a certain point. Also, the solar wall automatically shuts itself off in the winter, when the sun’s rays aren’t strong enough to heat the air in the gap before it’s pulled into the building ventilation system. For these reasons, our solar wall is generally shut off in the summer, when the air temperature is too warm, and in the winter, when there’s not enough direct sunlight to power the solar wall.
Instead, our solar wall produces the most energy during the “shoulder seasons” of spring and fall. During those seasons, air pulled into the building via the solar wall can be as much as 15°C warmer than the outside air! This could mean that the solar wall offsets a lot of energy use at WARC during the shoulder seasons. Once we’ve monitored the solar wall for a full calendar year, we’ll be able to tell when our energy savings are greatest.
*All charts produced at intervals of greater than one month will use daily averages to plot the graph. Aurora Research Institute maintains data at 15 minute intervals, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for any requests for additional data.