Solar Magazine – Market breakthrough PowerNEST: IBIS Power takes production-critical components into its own hands

When was the idea for your company IBIS Power born?
‘After my master’s degree in architecture, I studied civil engineering in Miami 10 years ago. The sun is always shining there, the air conditioners run 24 hours a day, even when people are not at home. It was the time of the advent of solar panels, which were still very ugly and expensive. I thought there must be another way, and before I knew it, my hands were drawing’.

for the purpose of?
‘The dream was to design buildings that generate their own energy, but in such a way that they are also beautiful. Although the product has undergone enormous development over the years to optimize it, it is still the core.’

And that product is?
‘PowerNEST, a structure for buildings with flat roofs that produces both solar and wind energy. This is done in a very innovative way; it is the most efficient sustainable energy system with which you can generate green power in apartment complexes and offices, at least if they have at least 5 floors.’

Why?
‘To catch the wind you need height, also in our case. We capture the wind through the building’s facade and accelerate it to internal turbines with the Venturi effect. The aerodynamic design creates negative pressure that draws the wind in, while a funnel effect increases speed by 140 to 160 percent. As a result, the turbine generates up to 4 times more energy. ‘

Thanks in part to this innovation, IBIS Power has already won 31 awards…
“The PV component of our system gets less attention. It’s a shame because there’s a lot of innovation in it too. The solar panels are placed 4.8 meters above the wind turbine to give it space. PowerNEST is designed in such a way that there is continuous air flows along the underside of the solar panels. As a result, they are constantly cooled, providing 10 to 15 percent more efficiency. In addition, we use semi-transparent, double-sided solar panels and give the roof a white color to reflect more light. This provides additional 20 to 30 percent more solar energy compared to monofacials.’

PowerNEST also sounds and looks like a huge construction…’
‘It is a modular system. At the beginning of August, we placed a full roof on a residential tower here at Strijp S in Eindhoven. It consists of 10 parts measuring 7.2 by 7.2 meters and 4.8 meters high. But it can also be 4 or 30 – we tailor it to any roof. The construction leans over, at the top the surface exceeds the surface of the roof itself. This is necessary to ensure the necessary aerodynamic properties. But it looks beautiful.’

And what about the costs?
‘The payback time with current energy prices is around 5 to 6 years, which is very favorable and somewhat comparable to an average traditional solar system. This is because you generate 6 to 10 times as much energy per roof surface than with solar panels on high-rise roofs. On a flat roof, you often cannot lose many solar panels due to all kinds of installations. We place our construction over all the equipment so that the entire surface can be used. When the solar panels have reached their prime after 25 years, you can simply replace them, making it a great long-term investment. This also makes PowerNEST the best solution for generating green power on flat high-rise roofs in urban environments.’

Where are you as a company?
‘Since 2016, we have carried out various pilots in the Netherlands. We are now rolling out our PowerNEST 2 commercially. The full-roof installation in the Eden District Rotterdam has 144 solar panels of 325 watts peak and 3 turbines of 3 kilowatts. The total power is 59 kilowatts peak. It is located in a complex of 30 apartments in Rotterdam. The production is sufficient to supply it completely with sustainable electricity for one year. The installation on Strijp S has 296 bifacial solar panels of 420 watts peak and generates about 85 percent of the power needs of the 100 households in the tower. We have another 12 such projects in preparation. In the meantime, we are working on the third generation of our system, where we are again making major optimisations, for example using storage. In addition, we are going to take the production of some critical, expensive components into our own hands.’

What is the ambition for the coming years?
‘We are not making any money at the moment, but we will in 2 years. Our scale-up requires around 8 to 12 million euros in capital. We have already collected the first part and another investment round is being prepared. Our opportunities so far lie primarily in existing construction, many stakeholders are involved in new construction projects, all of whom have interests and attitudes. One of the bottlenecks to growth is finding people. We have an excellent product, make the world a little better and make super cool projects. But there are now 7 high quality vacancies that are hard to fill. At the same time, the prospects are good. Our technology has proven itself and there is great interest from the market. It’s going very fast now. We want to produce 1 module per day and hundreds of projects at home and abroad within the foreseeable future. IBIS Power will become a large international company.’

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