Canadian firm taps sunlight for internal lighting

INGENIOUS: SunCentral’s technology tracks, collects and concentrates sunlight on the side of multi-storey buildings, utilising special optics to funnel through small openings of walls behind concentrator units in the walls.

VANCOUVER: A British Columbia company is poised to fully develop a new technology that funnels sunlight into multi-storey buildings through the wall instead of the roof to allow lights to be turned off by up to 75 per cent during daylight hours.

The Canadian technology, whose development has been propelled by a C$6.4 million (C$1=RM3.09) government funding, has export potential to Asian countries like Malaysia, where there is more sunshine to tap, said Tony Formby, president and chief executive officer of SunCentral Inc (SunCentral).

“We are looking very hard at Asian markets where they are grappling with energy issues. There is a major effort underway to build green and sustainable building practices to reduce energy use, as there is a commercial payback in using our new technology,” he told Bernama here.

The commercial release of this multi-billion dollar technology, a brainchild of University of British Columbia professor, Dr Lorne Whitehead, is expected in 2013 and can create jobs in areas where it is used.

“We are looking at a great amount of commercial usage when it is fully commissioned. There is tremendous potential everywhere in the world. Our hopes are on the export market,” Formby said.

Formby said SunCentral was upbeat about the technology’s prospects and business potential of about C$3 billion annually from the southern US Sunbelt states and C$10 billion globally, adding that the new technology would also be affordable to Asian users.

Comparatively, Canada is not a very sunny place, and the more sunshine a place has, the faster the technology pays back by itself, he explained.

ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY: SunCentral’s lighting technology is well-suited for office buildings as working hours coincide with sunlight hours and is effective for displacing electrical energy.

“Our model is based on a commercially viable payback to stimulate demand. California is a perfect place. Some areas in China have a lot of sunshine while India is a perfect market with a high economic growth but inefficient power infrastructure,” he said.

What the technology does is track, collect and concentrate sunlight on the side of multi-storey buildings, utilising special optics to funnel through small openings of walls behind concentrator units in the walls.

“It is important for people to understand that we are not converting sunlight to electricity. We are taking sunlight, concentrating it and using it in its natural state to light interior of buildings deep inside, much further than the windows can provide.

“We don’t need two sets of lighting fixtures in the building. This technology will reduce power usage by a significant amount and will reduce lighting and air conditioning loads. It also reduces heat generated by lightning by using sunlight,” he added.

The Korean Energy Institute is asking to buy two of its prototype units for research purposes.

Such units are being tested in research facilities in Italy and the United States and soon in South Korea.

BC hydro manager for residential sector (technology and innovation), Gary Hamer said this technology was well-suited for office buildings as working hours coincide with sunlight hours and was effective for displacing electrical energy.

“We believe natural daylight is probably a more pleasing light for people to feel happy in while fluorescent light is very good today with technology breaks like small tubes etc, natural sunlight could affect people positively just like a good day outside could
give us the same feeling,” he said.

Donald Yen, an instructor in sustainable urban development at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, said the export potential of the new technology was very large.

“Buildings are often the largest energy users and lights represent 25 per cent of energy uses in buildings worldwide,” he said. — Bernama

What do you think of this story?
  • Angry (0%)
  • Sad (0%)
  • Nothing (0%)
  • Interesting (0%)
  • Great (0%)

 

Affiliates

 

Supplement Downloads

Member of