RESTORATION Customs warehouse ESSEN


The high-tech photovoltaic installation made with transparent solar  PV glass is located at an altitude of 16 meters in the Customs warehouse in Essen. Anyone who enters the building is immediately amazed by the beautifully restored space.


This 1902 Flemish neo-Renaissance-style building was the most critical border station between Belgium and the Netherlands. Now, its primary objectives the promotion of sustainability.


The photovoltaic skylight is part of an Interreg Flanders-Netherlands European project in which several partners investigate how monuments can be made more sustainable.





Energy cost

Reduction in HVAC energy demands

Internal Rate of Return

<1 year 


  • superficieTotal area - 750 M2
  • electricidad generadaElectricity generated in 35 years - 627,149 kWh
  • puntos de luzTotal light points operating 4 hours per day in 35 years - 1,231 lighting points
  • emisiones CO2 evitadasCO2 emmisions avoided in 35 years - 420 Tons of CO2
  • barriles petroleo ahorradosBarrels of oil saved in 35 years - 369 barrels per m2




To combine the latest technology and sustainable materials in a building of the early twentieth century, Onyx Solar has supplied photovoltaic glass in amorphous silicon technology with a medium degree of transparency for the central skylight area of the building, by incorporating 440 glasses with the insulating chamber.


The original glass of the building had disappeared a long time ago, and it was decided to integrate 800 m2 (8,611 sqft) of photovoltaic glass into the new skylight which lets in the light and at the same time generates electricity.


 customs warehouse essen photovoltaic skylight onyx solar



Thanks to this installation of the Vorsselmans contractor, this building will generate 600 MWh and prevent the emission of more than 400 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.


The challenge of applying new innovative technology in this warehouse has become a reality. Custom photovoltaic glass has been perfectly integrated both in design and location in this protected historic building.



customs warehouse essen photovoltaic skylight onyx solar



Kathleen Helsen"In recent years we have been investigating how protected monuments can be made more sustainable".




 Kathleen Helsen, co-president of Kempens Landschap and deputy of the province of Antwerp.



customs warehouse essen photovoltaic skylight onyx solar



Jan De Haes “We set to work in a hygrothermal study. Specifically, it was calculated what type of solar panels would allow sufficient light to pass through and would not have a negative impact on the underlying steel structure of the historic roof. The result is an operational skylight that has been integrated fantastically into the restored shed. "


 Jan De Haes, deputy of the province of Antwerp and co-president of Kempens Landscape.


Gaston Van Tichelt“The installation fits perfectly in the building. During the construction of the customs warehouse in 1902, modern technologies were also used. The panels will generate around 20,000 kWh each year. Electricity will probably be used by Robotland, an educational technology park that will be located in the building. "


Gaston Van Tichelt, Mayor of Essen.




Awards & Recognitions:

  • Winner: MAINTENANCE OR REFURBISHMENT AWARD – CABE Built Environment Awards 2020.


Gaston Van Tichelt














Client: Autonoom Gemeentebedrijf Essen

Architect: aNNo architecten

Contractor: Vorsselmans 


Contact Onyx Solar for further information in photovoltaic glass



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