The SkyLouver System has been in development since 2004, with several design iterations in the deployment of early prototype systems. The first full pilot-scale system completed in November 2009 demonstrated the ability to provide up to 70% of the light required for a commercial building, plus the collection of thermal energy. After the completion of the pilot system operation, the design was refined to focus on daylighting and thermal heat at temperatures sufficient to drive solar air conditioning systems.
All of the modules up to that point had been produced in small batches as prototypes. The next stage of development required ramping up a production line to produce modules in higher quantities to be deployed in large enough numbers to prove the system’s performance for daylighting a large commercial building and to collect sufficient thermal energy to drive commercial absorption chilling equipment. Accomplishing these goals was an essential prerequisite to enabling full commercialization of the system, saving significant amounts of energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and spurring employment for the manufacture and installation of SkyLouver systems.
SkyLouver Systems is a division of MBC Ventures, Inc., a Maryland manufacturer doing business since 1851. Working with the US Department of Energy and Maryland Energy Administration MBC Ventures developed production capability for the commercialization of the SkyLouver system and installed the first 50 module system on the roof of one of the manufacturing buildings at its Baltimore facility.
The system continues to achieve the expected level of performance, the lighting produced by the system provides over 75% of the lighting energy required by the facility, equivalent to 172 MWhr of electricity, or about $23,000 in costs. Additionally, the solar thermal heating element of the system is able to provide 38% of the space heating for a separate assembly building in a typical year. This is equivalent to saving 59 MWhr of thermal energy (natural gas) per year. In the summer season, the high quality heat generated by the system drives a heat-driven chiller to provide about 20% of the building’s cooling load. This is equivalent to about 13 MWhr of electrical energy. All told, the system is capable of saving 1,850 MWhr of electricity and 590 MWhr of natural gas over 10 years, or the equivalent of 1,840 tons of CO2 emissions.
MBC Ventures expects to deploy an increasing number of SkyLouver systems each year. If current sales projections are met, the cumulative total energy saved over 10 years is 4,500 GWhrs of electricity, equivalent to 3.1 million tons of CO2.