SUNTEX

Lightweight woven solar textile

weaving, solar fabric, textile architecture, energy harvesting

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Weaving solar energy into the world around us

2022


Studio Pauline van Dongen and Tentech are developing an innovative solar textile, under the working title SUNTEX.

This new material combines the flexibility, tactility and design freedom of textile with the energy-generating potential of solar technology. By weaving thin-film organic photovoltaic (OPV) panels into a textile, a smart and lightweight material is made. Research has shown that combining the flexible OPV with yarns of high tensile strength, allows it to be used in tensile architecture, textile shading structures and textile façades which can harvest solar energy while providing passive sun shading.

Photography: Anna Wetzel

SUNTEX façade

Built as a modular system, SUNTEX offers architects formal flexibility that other much heavier and less flexible solar technologies do not. This means that SUNTEX can be applied to places and surfaces with many hours of sunshine that currently remain unused, for example the glass facades of high-rise buildings. A speculative design study on the Westraven building in Utrecht has shown that SUNTEX, installed on three of the four facades, could power the entire lighting of the building year-round. Next to the qualitative benefit of harvesting energy, the aesthetic integration of SUNTEX on buildings can increase social awareness and acceptance of solar energy around us.

SUNTEX demonstrator

The most recent demonstrator of the textile was displayed at The Energy Show, an exhibition curated by Matylda Krzykowski at Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam, in collaboration with The Solar Biennale.

Special thanks to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy for supporting the development of SUNTEX.

Photography: Aad Hoogedoorn

SUNTEX pavilion

Studio Pauline van Dongen took part in the bidding process for the Dutch pavilion at Expo 2025 Osaka. The project proposal developed with an interdisciplinary team, takes pride in second-place achievement. Although the pavilion will not be realised, it features an example of Suntex’s potential application as a colourful, energy generating facade.

Image: Overtreders W

The submission “Let’s Turn Things Around” showcases the Netherlands’ vision for an attractive, clean, green, and joyful urban future. In a colourful and 100% circular pavilion, visitors collaborate towards a sustainable future by using bicycles.The architectural design by Overtreders W features a wooden tent-like structure adorned with a façade made of Suntex which would power the lighting of the building at night. The fully circular pavilion would be constructed on a solid rammed earth foundation, utilising locally excavated soil, tinted blue with Japanese indigo pigment. 

 

The team of “Let’s turn things around” consisted of:

Kubik, Overtreders W, Tinker imagineers, Tentech, Urbanberry Design

Image: Overtreders W

Would you like to apply SUNTEX in your product or industry, send us a message!

This development is kindly supported by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy.

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