Inventor of the Building Integrated Solar Air Collector
John Hollick, Inventor of the SolarWall® technology, beside a SolarWall® system.
A professional engineer by training and creative inventor by choice, Conserval Engineering CEO John Hollick has one of the longest track records of anyone in the solar renewable arena. Spanning three decades, Hollick and colleagues’ relentless pursuit of solar has spawned a raft of unique technologies and related innovations that enable us to practically and efficiently harness solar power. His invention of the unglazed transpired collector (which was branded as “SolarWall®”) single-handedly set the standard for the global solar air heating sector because of its high efficiency and low cost. Currently he is working with the governments of several countries to establish worldwide standards for solar air heating. He has also worked on developing a combination PV/thermal system that generates both heat and electricity from the same surface area. This is another technology that again, has the potential to revolutionize the renewable energy space by bringing together the best of the PV and thermal technologies into a “total energy system”.
Hollick was a founding partner in Conserval Engineering in 1977, and was the general manager of the company until 1985. At that time, he became the president, and began product development in the area of solar heating. He first developed a glazed solar air collector that was used in the 1980s for industrial applications. The concept of using an unglazed and perforated metal collector panel came about in the 1990s in response to a desire to a) simplify solar heating; b) make it less costly; and c) increase the architectural versatility of the panels. Prior to the invention of the unglazed transpired collector, solar collectors were always designed and built with exterior glazing, which would either be glass or plastic, and it was thought that this was the only way to trap the heat from the sun and convert it into useable energy. John Hollick began to experiment with designing a solar collector using a standard building material, which would have the advantage that it would be building integrated, less expensive and easier to install, and would therefore have the potential to be adopted on a more widespread in the mainstream construction industry.
John Hollick at the 2016 International Food and Agribusiness Management Association Conference.
John Hollick has also been actively involved in the industry association in Canada, and was a driving force behind merging the thermal and the photovoltaic associations together into what is now the Canadian Solar Industries Association (CanSIA). He was a member of the Technical Advisory Committee for Natural Resources Canada from 1990-1996, and also served on the Council on Renewable Energy for the Ontario Ministry of Energy. He has represented Canada on various International Energy Agency (IEA) tasks from 1990 through to the present, and most recently is involved in the IEA Task 35 in Europe on PV thermal systems.