Hydro showed combinations of technology, function and grace in more than a dozen conceptual products and systems at its stand at the Paris Expo. One of the visitors was Jean-Louis Borloo, the French minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Spatial Planning.
"Our guests wanted to see where the market is going, and how we are planning to take them there," says Lars Hauk Ringvold, who heads Hydro's aluminium building systems activities.
Hydro presented concepts from three of its brands - Architectural Systems, Technal and Wicona. Each brand has a distinct image in the systems market, and each showed its respective strengths at the exhibition, which attracted 2,700 exhibitors from 49 countries.
Some of the best-received concepts:
- Software for architects that calculate performance of building elements
- Windows with motorized systems for functionally disabled
- Energy-saving surface treatment solutions
- Facades with no structural glazing or glue for glass
- Photovoltaics integrated in windows, doors, balcony railings and facadeGuests discovered that Hydro is one step closer to offering aluminium systems with integrated photovoltaic systems. Such systems can generate energy savings that exceed 60 percent, compared to today’s systems.
Next steps for integrated photovoltaic systems
The prototypes displayed at Batimat were the result of a successful pre-project between Hydro and Ascent Solar Technologies, a Denver-based company which manufactures the flexible thin-film photovoltaic modules. Hydro owns 23 percent of Ascent Solar.
Joseph McCabe, who is responsible for business development for Ascent Solar, says the prototypes created "absolute excitement" at Batimat but that patience is key. Ascent plans to ramp up production of the photovoltaic modules in Denver next year, while Hydro will launch projects demonstrating the systems in France and in Spain. Other milestones also remain.
"Our customers want us to continue showing speed in the development process. They understand this can be very good for their business," says Hauk Ringvold.
Hydro is Europe's preferred supplier of aluminium building systems, and delivers to scores of other countries around the globe. Its three international brands - Domal, Technal and Wicona - cover the range of system products.
Based on its long experience in materials technology and renewable energy, Hydro is also investing in solar energy with partner companies, such as Ascent Solar, to develop new technologies and manufacturing processes at facilities in Europe and the US.