Malta's First Technical Research on a Vertical Solar Photovoltaic System The Institute for Energy Technology of the University of Malta has initiated a technical study on the performance of a vertical south-facing solar photovoltaic system at its centre in Marsaxlokk.

The system was successfully installed by two final-year engineering students, Juan Pablo Juarez Martin and Maria Fernandez Prieto, of Valladolid University, Spain, as part of their Socrates-Erasmus student mobility programme at the Institute. The system will be monitored for at least two years in accordance with the established European standards, with the aim of evaluating the performance under local climatic conditions.

The potential of installing vertical photovoltaic facades on buildings in Malta is increasing as old terraced houses are being demolished and replaced by high rise buildings. The roof area that was once dedicated to only one family, would have to be shared by the new apartment owners and would have to accommodate a larger number of services such as water tanks, air-conditioning units, solar water heaters, dish antennas and space for drying clothes. Hence the remaining roof area would not be sufficient to place a sizeable solar photovoltaic system for power generation. On the other hand, the facade or any other exposed side of the building, would now offer a larger area for such solar installations provided that there is sufficient sunshine falling on them. Solar photovoltaic modules can be integrated with other building materials such as glass or stone, thus enhancing the aesthetics of the building, while generating power to reduce the electricity demand from the grid and cut down on pollution.

The two students have been examined by an approved Board of Examiners composed of their supervisor Mr. Charles Yousif, Prof. Edward Mallia from the University of Malta and Dr. Juan Antonio Lopez Sastre from Valladolid University, Spain. Both dissertations were given Grade A.