The Solar Journey Eurotrip begins! Visit to Onyx Solar in Spain!

After Central America and a short trip to New York, I went back to Norway for a short holiday and to start the Eurotrip-part of my Solar Journey. I will be spending about 2,5 months travelling around Europe, trying to visit as many companies and projects as possible. I´m especially looking forward to the Intersolar Conference in Germany. 

Having a travel break, watching the sunset in Norway, looking forward to my Solar Journey to be continued. Europe I’m ready!

It was nice to start back in Norway and spend some time with family and friends after 3 months apart. Whilst in Norway, I held a lecture about Solar Power and Renewable Energy for about 200 8thgraders in Bergen. It was a part of the schools “Bergen City by 2050” project, where the kids had to plan what their city would look like in 2050. These kids will be our future leaders, and it’s so important to inspire them towards a green future. 

Ready to inspire 8th graders
Model of a future building, made by 8th graders in Bergen. Good to see some of what I talked about went through!

I also booked a visit to my local utility company, Haugaland Kraft. I used to work there as a summer employee while in college 5 and 6 year ago, doing surveillance of the power grid and renewable energy production. It was good to be back, and they welcomed me by holding two very interesting presentations of their work in solar power and other energy systems. As I am travelling the world, learning about solar, I figured I should know some more about what is happening on the solar-front in my own backyard. 

Home

I also got my very first paid Solar Power presentation job whilst in my hometown. An architecture firm hired me to teach them more about solar. Kind of a milestone for me to get payed to hold a solar-presentation. I really enjoy public speaking and the opportunity to share what I learn, and at the same time practice my presentation skills. One of my personal goals are definitely to become a better public speaker. It’s especially fun when I get to talk about my favorite subject. I hope to get more opportunities like this during the course of this year and after. 

My first stop after Norway was Spain. I flew to Malaga, determined that this will be my only flight during these two months. It is no secret that travelling by flying has a major environmental impact. Therefore I always try to go by land and public transport as much as possible. Should be easy here in Europe where there are great train and bus systems. 

No problem spending time on trains and busses when the view looks like this

I had an appointment with Onyx Solar in Avila, a smalltown about 1,5 hours trainride outside of Madrid. So, I basically had to go all the way from Malaga to Madrid to Avila and back to Madrid, all in only one day. Almost 800km by train. It was a long day. Luckily is was all worth it. 

Onyx Solar is a world leading manufacturer of Photovoltaic glass for buildings. They specialize in making transparent or colored architectural glass, which is installed on facades, curtain walls, skylights etc. They also make walkable solar floors!! How cool is that? They have done over 180 projects on five continents, and I´m literally just making my list over which of them I can visit on my travels. 

Onyx office building. Can you tell the wall behind me is made from solar cells?

Their own office building was the first thing that caught my eye as I came walking towards it. It was all black and shiny, looking like a black box. I wondered if it could be some kind of solar installation, though it just looked like a normal wall. Once I got inside, I saw that it was in fact, a solar installation. From the inside of the building it looked white. Even if I couldn’t see out, normal daylight came in as if the building was covered in windows.

From the inside of the black-looking solar wall. Lots of daylight coming in!
A selection of their many renewable energy prices. An impressive company for sure!

They specialize in transparent PV glass, and this was the first time I ever saw a solar cell I could see right through. They showed me several different levels of transparency. Obviously the more transparent the cell is, the less efficient it will be, but I was still so impressed how this was possible. They explained how they used thin-film technology, and how their Building Integrated PV glasses are less expensive than many other materials unable to generate electricity. The more transparent, the more expensive and less efficient naturally, but still so, so pretty. 

They use the normal crystalline technology as well, but puts in inside glass instead of a normal frame.

Testing out the solar-floor. It´s supposed to hold hundreds of kg.
Me looking through the future. So cool with transparent (and apparently a bit mirror-ish) solar cells.
In my Glava Energy Center outfit, showing of this transparent solar glass

They took me to their factory, only 5 km away from their office building. Not surprising, this facade also had some solar installations. We went through the factory and into their showroom. A large area of the factory showing a piece of everything they ever made. Posters on the walls, explaining the projects, and so many different colors and shades. For every project they do, they keep a small piece of the solar glass, to show off to future clients. They even gave me some samples to bring home. I have now, kind of started to collect different solar cells. I got my first one from Scatec when I visited in Oslo, and now I have three more samples from Onyx. Is this taking my solar power enthusiasm a bit too far? Haha.. I guess it´s like souvenirs from the solar adventure.

The outside facade of the factory, solar glass beautifully mirroring the clouds of the sky
Shading for the cars, also of course producing power
My favourite is polycrystalline. Have you ever seen a more beautiful material?
Its so pretty
A selection of colours and shapes of the solar glass
Shape from one of their projects
Showroom selfie with the Onyx guys showing me around.
One of my little solar samples for the collection
After the visit, the Onyx guys showed me one of the best view points in Avila. You can see the 1300th century wall surrounding the city behind me. Obviously I did some sightseeing before I left.

The next day I spent sightseeing in Madrid, a beautiful city, which kind of reminds me a bit of Paris. This trip really is a perfect combination of work and play. I get to see so much of the world, and at the same time learn so much of my profession. 

Madrid
Sightseeing in Madrid
The Retiro park was absolutely stunning!

Yesterday, I spent sitting on busses and trains, making my way all the way to the tiny country of Andorra. 

Travelling environmentally friendly! Looking out the window seing amazing landscapes!
Trainride views

Stay tuned! I´ll try to update more often now that I’m in Europe with perfect internet and lots of projects to visit!

And by the way, I hope all my fellow solar enthusiasts visit the Norwegian Solar Energy Conference next week! It will be in Bergen on May 9th. Read more on this link

Christina

The Solar Journey Eurotrip begins! Visit to Onyx Solar in Spain!

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