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Chicago's Willis Tower To Become Vertical Solar Farm

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the free-range-sunlight dept.

Power 227

An anonymous reader writes "The tallest building in the United States is set to become a soaring vertical solar farm, as Pythagoras Solar just launched a project to emblazon the building's glass façade with transparent photovoltaic panels. The new windows, dubbed high power density photovoltaic glass units, are a clever hybrid technology that lays a typical monocrystalline silicon solar cell horizontally between two layers of glass to form an individual tile. An internal plastic reflective prism directs angled sunlight onto the solar cells but allows diffuse daylight and horizontal light through. The high-profile project will begin on the south side of the 56th floor and could grow up to 2 MW in size — which is comparable to a 10-acre field of solar panels."

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Transparent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35565524)

If they are transparent, how can they capture the light and convert the photons to electrons?

Re:Transparent? (4, Informative)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565570)

Only transparent at certain frequencies, e.g. the frequencies of visible light.

Re:Transparent? (3, Informative)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565638)

If they are transparent, how can they capture the light and convert the photons to electrons?

For the same reason your car windshield is transparent, but your Transitions glasses won't darken.

Re:Transparent? (1)

milkmage (795746) | more than 2 years ago | (#35566026)

"An internal plastic reflective prism directs angled sunlight onto the solar cells but allows diffuse daylight and horizontal light through. Think of it as a louvered shade which allows for views but cuts out the harsh direct sun."

not related, but still neat: glass turns opaque with the flip of a switch.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smart_glass [wikipedia.org]

How much offset? (1)

adenied (120700) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565532)

That's cool. 2 MW. But it would be nice to know how much the building and its occupants use in an average 24 hour period.

Re:How much offset? (2)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565590)

Also be nice to know how much power they could save by using windows that open instead of A/C...

Re:How much offset? (1)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565670)

If they would move the air from the higher floors to the lower floors, it would work great. I know people who worked in the Empire State building in the 1960s. They worked on in 72nd (it was 70 something) floor. They opened the windows in the summer. Being up that high the air was cooler. You just had to hang on due to the updraft that happened sometimes. The updraft often swept her off of her feet.

Re:How much offset? (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565786)

Also be nice to know how much power they could save by using windows that open instead of A/C...

It has been a while since the ability to open windows existed on tall buildings. You can thank those that jumped from the buildings.

Re:How much offset? (4, Interesting)

peragrin (659227) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565914)

Actually you can thank the buildings designers for that. most skyscrapers suffer from updrafts, that could be strong enough to lift 120 pounds. Think about it, that cute secretary in those awesome heels, walks by the open window and gets sucked out of it because the wind shifts just right. It has happened.

Re:How much offset? (4, Funny)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 2 years ago | (#35566024)

And remember this is Chicago, not New York, so even the not-so-cute 300lb IT support guy would be in peril with those winds...

Re:How much offset? (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 2 years ago | (#35566088)

Are you implying that it's windier, or that there are no cute secretaries in Chicago?

If the former, New York is actually as windy or windier [noaa.gov] than Chicago on average, though if the latter, I'll have to defer to your expertise.

Re:How much offset? (1)

shermo (1284310) | more than 2 years ago | (#35566162)

But people tend to notice very windy days. They don't keep a running count of the average wind speed

We have a similar situation in New Zealand. Wellington is known as the windy city, but it has a lower average wind speed than Auckland. Wellington has more windy days than Auckland, but it also has more no-wind days, which brings the average down.

This is because Auckland gets sea-breezes more often than not during the summer, while Wellington doesn't, but Wellington gets pummelled by gradient breezes due to its location next to the Cook Strait.

Re:How much offset? (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 2 years ago | (#35566344)

I wish the 108th story of the Sears Tower did have windows that could open, so you would be able to compare it to the 108th story of a skyscraper in New York... oh wait, nevermind, there isn't one ;)

Anyway, I think in general (and these comments in particular) people are more interested in the gusts and max wind speed. The ave max wind speed in Chicago is about 58 MPH, and only 40 MPH in New York (Manhatten). Not even close!

Re:How much offset? (4, Funny)

nogginthenog (582552) | more than 2 years ago | (#35566154)

Simply place a sign by the window: "Do not stand next to open window or you may get sucked off"

Re:How much offset? (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 2 years ago | (#35566346)

Why even do that?

If you updrafts that are that powerful you can use *them* to generate power. Then run fans to swap air from the outside to the inside. Fairly simple. Bonus would be to filter it first.

You can even design it passively. Have intakes on the outside and exhaust ports on the top the building. Use them to suck the air out from the insides of each of the floors. All you would need is a central line through the whole building vertically where the negative pressure causes the fresh air to be sucked in from the top of the building and then back out through those exhaust ports.

I would imagine you would need to design it for noise and what not. Of course I am no engineer, but if you really have winds that can lift up a 120 pound secretary or 300 lb IT guy, that is a lot of energy. Some sort of active/passive system could be designed around that.

Re:How much offset? (0)

C_amiga_fan (1960858) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565878)

>>>how much power they could save by using windows that open instead of A/C...

They'd actually save more money by keeping the A/C and eliminating the windows so the cool in summer (and heat in winter) could not escape from the building. FAR more energy escapes through porous windows, then is generated by these solar panels.

Re:How much offset? (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#35566258)

1. Please do provide some proof.
2. Stop making new puppet accounts Commodore.

Re:How much offset? (2)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#35566310)

They'd lose huge amounts of money when they couldn't lease the floorspace in the building that way.

Re:How much offset? (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565910)

According to an article about projects started in '09 to reduce it's usage 80% reduction in power is 52 million kWh annually, putting its total usage at 65 million kWh annually.

this gets me at 2000 ish days of pure sunlight (at 2MW, when I say pure, I mean 24 hours of it) to completely meet its annual demands (divide all numbers by 365 to get your daily number).

Re:How much offset? (1)

butalearner (1235200) | more than 2 years ago | (#35566196)

According to an article about projects started in '09 to reduce it's usage 80% reduction in power is 52 million kWh annually, putting its total usage at 65 million kWh annually.

this gets me at 2000 ish days of pure sunlight (at 2MW, when I say pure, I mean 24 hours of it) to completely meet its annual demands (divide all numbers by 365 to get your daily number).

The articles I've seen have said 68GWh was the reduction, putting its total pre-upgrades usage at 85GWh. That means it averaged about 10MW of usage at any given time. Also, don't forget the other upgrades they're planning/implementing to bring energy costs down: wind turbines and solar water heaters, efficiency upgrades like replacing single pane windows and outdated elevators, and installing advanced lighting systems and more efficient plumbing.

Re:How much offset? (2, Insightful)

Dasher42 (514179) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565976)

When you consider the inefficiencies of powering it through the grid, going through miles and miles of resistance on the wire, you're going to offset much more than 2MW. Bringing the energy source onsite is a smart move.

Re:How much offset? (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#35566328)

What backwards part of the world do you live in that you don't get your power via superconducting wire?

Re:How much offset? (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 2 years ago | (#35566386)

When you consider the inefficiencies of powering it through the grid, going through miles and miles of resistance on the wire, you're going to offset much more than 2MW.

Yeah! Like 2.2MW at least! Maybe even 2.3!

Sears Tower (5, Informative)

torstenvl (769732) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565554)

The building is now and forever will be called the Sears Tower. No locals call it the Willis Tower. No non-locals should either. It's a landmark and a piece of architectural history. Like the headline says, it is "Chicago's." In this sense, it will always belong to the public, and the ability of some random foreign insurance firm to finagle some temporary naming rights will never change that.

Re:Sears Tower (4, Insightful)

shadowrat (1069614) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565576)

I read the summary and thought, "WTF is this willis tower? Is it somehow bigger than the sear's tower?"

Re:Sears Tower (1)

snsh (968808) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565628)

what are you talking about? willis?

Re:Sears Tower (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35565738)

Yippie Kai-Yay Motherfuckers!

Re:Sears Tower (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565804)

what are you talking about? willis?

.... tower.

Oh thats right, I went there.
Still funnier than Bob Saget

Re:Sears Tower (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 2 years ago | (#35566170)

Bob Saget redeemed himself in The Aristrocrats. He's a dirty, dirty man.

Re:Sears Tower (1)

milkmage (795746) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565956)

the correct spelling is

"wut choo talkin' 'bout"

Re:Sears Tower (3, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565606)

Naming rights on a building after it's completed is completely stupid. One of our local buildings has been renamed several times, and you find people referring to it by all of those names, even though the most recent naming is back to what it was originally and was nearly a decade ago.

Personally, I refuse to call it anything other than the Sears Tower, just because I think it's asinine to rename a world renowned landmark.

Re:Sears Tower (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 2 years ago | (#35566086)

Naming rights on a building after it's completed is completely stupid.

<Not always> [ballparks.com]

Re:Sears Tower (1, Interesting)

bigsexyjoe (581721) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565674)

If anything, it should be called the Wesley Willis Tower, afterthe great Chicagoan Wesley Willis [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Sears Tower (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565998)

I've been up there. When it's windy it really does rock over Chicago.

Re:Sears Tower (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35565758)

Little known fact for our non-Chicagoan readers:

Willis Tower, formerly Sears Tower, was originally known as the John Hancock Tower

Re:Sears Tower (3, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565966)

And here I always thought Chicago's John Hancock [wikipedia.org] building, which was built first, was known as the John Hancock.

Re:Sears Tower (3, Insightful)

Labcoat Samurai (1517479) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565764)

And this is what's annoying. Reputable news sources will feel an obligation to use the official name, while at the same time likely realizing that no one wants to call it that. Ends up being divisive. It'd be nice if more news sources would take a stand and just use the old name. It'd be a nice way to express how futile it really is to sell naming rights to an iconic structure or location.

Re:Sears Tower (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35566340)

Reputable news sources will feel an obligation to use the official name, while at the same time likely realizing that no one wants to call it that.

More like advertising driven news sources who know which side their bread is buttered on will recognize bought-and-paid-for promotions.

Re:Sears Tower (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35565780)

The building is now and forever will be called the Sears Tower. No locals call it the Willis Tower. No non-locals should either.
That's funny, I came in to say the exact same thing.

Re:Sears Tower (-1, Troll)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565806)

The building is now and forever will be called the Sears Tower. No locals call it the Willis Tower. No non-locals should either. It's a landmark and a piece of architectural history. Like the headline says, it is "Chicago's." In this sense, it will always belong to the public, and the ability of some random foreign insurance firm to finagle some temporary naming rights will never change that.

So.. do Nerds pedantically correct people's statements for the sake of accuracy, or just for the sake of being different?

Re:Sears Tower (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 2 years ago | (#35566064)

By definition, nerds pedantically correct people's statements for the sake of accuracy (of minutiae, or to show off knowledge). Being different is a side effect of other people generally not caring about correctness in detail. :)

Re:Sears Tower (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35566286)

I think the point is that the other poster's correction was promoting inaccuracy, hence the question about being different.

Re:Sears Tower (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35566126)

So... do assholes sarcastically deride people's statements for the sake of personal inadequacies, or just for the sake of being assholes?

Re:Sears Tower (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#35566178)

So... do assholes sarcastically deride people's statements for the sake of personal inadequacies, or just for the sake of being assholes?

Does it matter? We're noisy because others are noisy.

Re:Sears Tower (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#35566354)

They do it because they suffer from untreated OCD.

Re:Sears Tower (1, Troll)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565816)

Funny, I feel the same way about Mount McKinley [wikipedia.org] despite the fact it was renamed Mt. Denali in the Seventies.

Re:Sears Tower (1)

spun (1352) | more than 2 years ago | (#35566092)

Funny, the native Athabaskans felt the same way when white men named it McKinley despite the fact that it was called Denali before conquering invaders ever saw it. But I suppose that you feel the winners get to make the names, eh? In that case, I guess the Athabaskans must have won, because it's called Denali now.

This is nothing at all like a major landmark being renamed by a megacorporation. In fact, renaming Denali to McKinley is akin to renaming the Sears Tower to Willis Tower. Changing McKinley back to Denali would be like changing Willis Tower back to Sears Tower.

Re:Sears Tower (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#35566332)

This is nothing at all like a major landmark being renamed by a megacorporation. In fact, renaming Denali to McKinley is akin to renaming the Sears Tower to Willis Tower. Changing McKinley back to Denali would be like changing Willis Tower back to Sears Tower.

Heh. I'm having a vision of 40 years in the future of someone complaining that the iconic Willis Tower of Chicago is having it's name bastardized and changed to Sears of all things. The nerve!

Re:Sears Tower (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35565982)

Really? I thought it was called "Ron White's big ol' fuckin' building".

Re:Sears Tower (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#35566394)

The building is now and forever will be called the Sears Tower. No locals call it the Willis Tower. No non-locals should either.

Oh yeah? We'll just have to see about that.

Yippee-ki-yay, motherfuckers!

Bru^H^H^H Roy Rogers.

Great (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565556)

"...could grow up to 2 MW in size..." And how much power doest the building consume?

Re:Great (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565640)

That power is already used. So, unless this blocks enough light that people have to start turning on lights because of it, it's a gain. Which is to say it'll reduce the amount of electricity that the building uses.

Re:Great (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565734)

The point is, wouldn't making more efficient buildings have a better payback than slapping solar cells on the side of a sealed glass cage?

Re:Great (2)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565798)

The point is, wouldn't making more efficient buildings have a better payback than slapping solar cells on the side of a sealed glass cage?

Which choice would be more efficient in part depends if you're starting with a building or with an empty lot.

Re:Great (1)

Jartan (219704) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565812)

The point is, putting solar cells on a building makes it more efficient.

Re:Great (3, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565890)

Only if the net output of the solar cells over their projected lifetime exceeds the energy costs to manufacture them and affix them to the side of the building. This is a publicity stunt, when in fact revamping the environmental controls could potentially yield greater energy savings at lower cost. Just because something can be done doesn't mean it should be -- a good engineer looks for the most efficient means of accomplishing the objective. Slapping solar cells on the roof of a Prius technically makes it go farther on a gallon of gas, but the difference is so trivial that it doesn't justify the cost of the solar cells.

Re:Great (1)

perlchild (582235) | more than 2 years ago | (#35566098)

To say nothing of the

If you want to have a tall building that consumes electricity, you can't say "produce it elsewhere"

which I personally find precious. We should be putting solar power in by default, and using other sources if solar fails, period. Because all of the other sources are stored solar power that's been converted, using the original source makes more sense.

Once we have one building doing this, we can have others.

We can also stop the nonsense about putting most of the solar power in deserts. We need to start to have urban power generation that doesn't generate smoke pollutants. Solar is ideal for that.

Re:Great (2)

spun (1352) | more than 2 years ago | (#35566128)

You haven't kept up to date on the dropping price of solar, and the rising price of anything non-renewable. Solar is a much more economical prospect nowadays. Have you been asleep for the past ten years?

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35566138)

Only if the net output of the solar cells over their projected lifetime exceeds the energy costs to manufacture them and affix them to the side of the building. This is a publicity stunt, when in fact revamping the environmental controls could potentially yield greater energy savings at lower cost. Just because something can be done doesn't mean it should be -- a good engineer looks for the most efficient means of accomplishing the objective. Slapping solar cells on the roof of a Prius technically makes it go farther on a gallon of gas, but the difference is so trivial that it doesn't justify the cost of the solar cells.

I have to reply to this because it's damn idiotic. The solar cells on the top of a Prius don't recharge the battery, nitwit, it runs a fan to keep the car cooler on hot sunny days.

Re:Great (3, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#35566276)

Only if the net output of the solar cells over their projected lifetime exceeds the energy costs to manufacture them and affix them to the side of the building.

Which, since they are conducting an extensive remodel [earth911.com] of the building to improve energy efficiency including replacing the single-pane windows anyway, they most likely will, that makes it a good decision.

Just because something can be done doesn't mean it should be -- a good engineer looks for the most efficient means of accomplishing the objective.

Exactly, and that often means making use of multiple techniques in concert, including some smaller optimizations that nevertheless contribute to the overall objective, and ideally take advantage of changes you're already making. For example, you might see that one of the biggest improvements you can make to the building is to replace all the old poorly insulated windows with new efficient ones. And then you can look at whether or not in-window solar would be worth it in the context of having already decided to replace all the windows.

Re:Great (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#35566372)

Only if the net output of the solar cells over their projected lifetime exceeds the energy costs to manufacture them and affix them to the side of the building.

It does, get over it.

lapping solar cells on the roof of a Prius technically makes it go farther on a gallon of gas, but the difference is so trivial that it doesn't justify the cost of the solar cells.

Those are there to run the fans while the car is parked. This lowers the demand for AC when the user gets back in. AC uses lots of fuel, far more than the cost of the wee little panel over the life of the car.

Try less pontificating and a little more education. How your comment got a +5 I will never know.

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35565858)

Why not do both?

You do not always have to do one thing and not the other...

Re:Great (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565912)

You should do the one that is most cost effective first.

Re:Great (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 2 years ago | (#35566274)

You should do the one that is most cost effective first.

I can imagine that your earlier suggestion of being able to open windows would probably be impractical (possible dangerous) to retrofit onto a skyscraper that was not designed to support them (although I am a big fan of using ventilation instead of air conditioning). So what should they have done first, and how do you know that they haven't done it already.

I was just about to hit submit when I came across a post by AvitarX [slashdot.org] that addresses this. It seems this is just he latest in a series of improvements made to the building. You were too quick to judge without getting all the facts.

Re:Great (2)

AF_Cheddar_Head (1186601) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565972)

If you read the article (yeah I know it's Slashdot) you would find out that these new windows also lower the solar gain reducing the need for cooling in the summer. So the building becomes more efficient in multiple ways.

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35566050)

What about heat in the winter? Chicago is damn cold, after all

What chu talkin about? (0)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565562)

Willis tower?

Used to be the "Sears Tower" (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35565580)

It used to be the Sears Tower until Willis (Todd Bridges) from Diff'rent Strokes died in a shootout in the lobby.... One of the Chicago mob mayors, Daily, I think then forcibly re-named the building against the owner's wishes and closed the municpal airport because another Willis, this time Bruce Willis was threatening to come in and blow up shit at THAT airport for another movie.

first I was like... (1)

demonbug (309515) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565584)

"huh?"

And then I was like, "Oh! They're talking about the SEARS tower."

Also... it allows "diffuse daylight and horizontal light through." Does that mean I can only look directly out the window at things at the same level? What is the vertical viewing angle?

Re:first I was like... (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#35566082)

Don't worry, they're lining the inside of the windows with iPhone 4s hooked up to cameras which are built into the solar cells so that you get a good view at all angles, at retina resolution.

Old saying (3, Funny)

snsh (968808) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565600)

People who live in glass towers shouldn't sow photons.

Will it deliver? (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565614)

Given how far north Chicago is, and the kinds of winters they get, I'm curious to know if it will be worth the effort. And it it will deliver on the energy claims. I'm curious to know what kind of power they'll get from that amount of surface area compared to the same installation somewhere in the southwest.

Re:Will it deliver? (1)

shadowrat (1069614) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565676)

I live in milwaukee, just an hour north of chicago. I can assure you we are well south of the arctic circle. We receive many hours of sunlight a day even in winter.

Considering chicago's moniker, I would think they would be better off pursuing wind power though.

Re:Will it deliver? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35565810)

Chicago is called the "Windy City" because Chicago politicians lobbied long-and-hard for their world's fair a while ago -- think windbags. Not because of actual wind

Re:Will it deliver? (1)

shadowrat (1069614) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565880)

WHOOSH

s/sears/willis/g (0)

Luyseyal (3154) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565658)

I, for one, welcome our Wesley Willis [wikipedia.org] towering overlord.

-l

In an unrelated story from the future... (1)

orphiuchus (1146483) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565660)

All of the residents of the Willis Tower in Chicago were electrocuted to death today, and then the building burned down.

Re:In an unrelated story from the future... (0)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565756)

"What you talkin' 'bout Willis Tower?" -- Gary Coleman

Re:In an unrelated story from the future... (1)

RooftopActivity (1991792) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565782)

Yeah they put one of the windows on backwards, so it stopped the visible light, but let through all the harmful radiation.

Wiring... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35565668)

Article seems a bit "light" on details, how will each individual solar panel unit deliver its power output? Will each window frame end up being stuffed with wires and highly corrosion-resistant joins? It will be interesting from a practical engineering standpoint.

Jack Kent Cook Memorial Stadium (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35565746)

Sigh...

I feel for you Chicago. You're on the list. Before we wipe "Willis" off your fine building though, we need to go DC and fire Dan, "let's pay too much for another aging veteran from a division rival" Snyder. Then we can put the name of the previous owner back on the Redskin's stadium.

Economics (3, Interesting)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565784)

What is the cost, and how long will it take to generate enough power to recover that cost?

Also, how much taxpayer money is being spent on this?

Re:Economics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35565884)

It is a 30% rebate from federal. Uncapped.

Do not know what the city of chicago and the state of Illinos has.

Re:Economics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35566058)

It's negative something the last I checked. But the last time I did that was when I lived there 5 years ago. I'm sure it's only gotten better.

Guess not: http://www.myfoxchicago.com/dpp/news/politics/illinois-state-budget-complete-suggest-spending-cuts-20110112

Re:Economics (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35565964)

In some senses, it doesn't matter. Pilot projects (assuming this is a pilot project--I don't know of any other place that's tried anything like this) ALWAYS cost more per unit scale. The goal is to gauge its efficacy. If it works well, then see how/whether it can be improved upon and implement it again. Vertical solar farms would be an interesting solution to the acreage issue.

In Chicago? (1)

frankgod (218789) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565828)

Chicago seems like bad place for solar panels. It will only produce a decent amount of energy for a few months out of the year.

Re:In Chicago? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35565970)

Chicago seems like bad place for solar panels. It will only produce a decent amount of energy for a few months out of the year.

Yeah, just like how it's raining in Seattle EVERY DAY.

Average hours of sunlight per day in Chi-town? (5, Interesting)

sdguero (1112795) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565894)

According to this solar power website, Chicago only gets an average of 3.14 hours of sunlight per day:
http://www.gosolarcompany.com/pv-sizing-sun-hours.html [gosolarcompany.com]

Seems like it would be a lot more efficient to put these on a high rise in Phoenix, with an average of 6.58 hours per day of sunlight. Then again, I'm not a marketing guy for Big WIlly, or "journalist" at inhabitat, so what do I know...

Re:Average hours of sunlight per day in Chi-town? (1)

codeAlDente (1643257) | more than 2 years ago | (#35565948)

That seems a little high, but maybe it's because clouds don't form so well when it's zero degrees outside.

Re:Average hours of sunlight per day in Chi-town? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35566016)

So, because it's more efficient to put them in Phoenix, nobody should build them in Chicago?

Re:Average hours of sunlight per day in Chi-town? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#35566060)

Sure it'd be more efficient to put them on high rises in Phoenix. Sadly, though, the Sears Tower would still be in Chicago, consuming all that energy. The solar panels are just one part of the retrofit designed to reduce the building's external power consumption. And regardless of how much better solar panels perform in Arizona instead of Chicago, as long as they produce enough power to pay for themselves before they need replacing, then it's a good idea.

Re:Average hours of sunlight per day in Chi-town? (2)

sdguero (1112795) | more than 2 years ago | (#35566254)

Please show me where in the article it says these panels will "produce enough power to pay for themselves before they need replacing." I think the likely hood of that scenario is much greater somewhere with twice as much sunlight.

I agree that this is part of a larger push to reduce the buildings power consumption, which is great for marketing to eco-consious tenants (pretty much everyone nowadays). However, I doubt the viability when something is this short on details. But hey, what are a couple thousand solar panels full of noxious chemicals right? Just a drop in the bucket compared to all the other crap we throw away... And it makes people feel good. Like recycling.

Re:Average hours of sunlight per day in Chi-town? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#35566284)

You mean it will work as well as recycling? That is fantastic news. Aluminum and Glass recycling saves tremendous amounts of energy.

Considering solar panels are generally guaranteed up to 25 years and I have seen some from the 80s brown but still working these sure as hell will pay for themselves eventually.

Re:Average hours of sunlight per day in Chi-town? (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 2 years ago | (#35566206)

Perhaps people in Arizona aren't as concerned about making their buildings self-sustaining. Or maybe they are and already have.

Re:Average hours of sunlight per day in Chi-town? (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 2 years ago | (#35566210)

Yeah, but that's a yearly average. It uses a LOT more electricity for A/C in the summer, when the sunlight averages are much higher.

In any case, I don't think anyone believes this is going to be a particularly cost effective project energy-wise (the installation and maintenance costs to install that many transparent solar panels 800 feet off the ground must be huge). But it is a huge marketing maneuver to make the tallest building in the United States run largely on its own solar power; kind of don't think random-office-building in Phoenix would have the same effect ;)

phallic symbols going the way of billionerrors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35566008)

we'll be keeping our buildings more like our lifespans, short & sweet, thanks. also, shorter buildings do less damage when they collapse on us, or are covertly explode(a)d.

Wondering when "renovation" would start. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35566168)

Larry Silverstein, WTC, Willis Towers, Chicago Terror Drills, asbestos, 2012, you may now remove your tinfoil hats.

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