Building Integrated Photovoltaic Systems

Acronym of BIPV (Building Integrated Photovoltaics) refers to photovoltaic systems integrated within an object. It means that such systems are built/constructed along with an object. Yet, they could be built later on. Due to specific task cooperation of many different experts, such as architects, civil engineers and PV system designers, is necessary. According to how and where such systems are built, whether integrated into the facade or in the roof, the following BIPV systems are recognized:

Facade or roof systems added after the building was built,
Facade integrated photovoltaic systems built along with an object,
Roof-integrated photovoltaic systems built along with an object,
Shadow-Voltaic PV systems also used as shading systems.


Akademie du Mont Cenis, credit pvresources Akademie du Mont Cenis, credit pvresources Akademie du Mont Cenis, credit pvresources

Akademie-du-Mont-Cenis, Herne, Germany, PV system integrated into building envelope
image credit: pvresources

In the case of facade or roof systems the photovoltaic system is added to the building after it was built. These low powered systems of up to some 10 kW are usually integrated into the south facade. Facade integrated photovoltaic systems could consist of different transparent module types, such as crystalline and micro-perforated amorphous transparent modules. In such case a part of natural light is transferred into the building through the modules. Solar cells are available in different colours; therefore, there is no limitation for imagination of the architect or the designer. We can say that such constructed buildings give the term architecture a completely new meaning. Roof-integrated photovoltaic systems are integrated into the roof; the roof is covered with transparent photovoltaic modules, or they are added to the roof later. Such systems are added to a flat roof, or on a tilted roof usually only if the building is small. It is possible to use tiles, which integrate solar cells.


Stillwell Avenue, courtesy Arnold Glas Stillwell Avenue, courtesy Arnold Glas Stillwell Avenue, courtesy Arnold Glas

Train station Stillwell Avenue, New York City, roof integrated transparent BIPV system
image courtesy: Arnold Glas

Photovoltaic systems can be used for shading, where photovoltaic modules serve as Venetian blinds. In some of such cases photovoltaic modules tilt angle can be adjusted manually or automatically allowing photovoltaic module and/or building shading efficiency optimization. Such systems are also known as shadow-voltaic systems. The best results and efficiency can be reached with systems, which are tightly integrated into the building's envelope; however, the use of active solar systems is an additional possibility. High level of expertise is required for successful BIPV systems planning, not only in regard to architecture, but also to civil and photovoltaic engineering. The projects realised in the past show that successful BIPV systems designing is based heavily on technical experience and knowledge. Poorly designed systems usually have to be redesigned or repaired later, consequently swelling maintenance costs and lowering system efficiency rate.

Modules in BIPV Applications

In BIPV applications different types of modules (depends on application) can be used: classic (framed) modules, flexible crystalline or thin-film on metal substrate, roof-tiles with solar cells, transparent monocrystalline modules, modules with coloured solar cells, semitransparent micro perforated amorphous etc. Upon customer request almost all module (mechanical and electrical) parameters can be customized. Customization include module shapes, cell type and colour, cell transparency, laminate construction, laminate/module size, heat/noise isolation properties, module voltage and peak power etc. Module size is limited by laminator features - largest laminators allow production of laminates up to 5 square meters of area in one piece. Exact shading analysis should be made before the system is constructed, high temperature conditions should be avoided if crystalline modules are used (decreased efficiency). Most common realized as curtain wall, or facade mounted modules. Cold and warm photovoltaic facades possible. In BIPV facades different types of modules can be used: classic modules, transparent or semitransparent modules (crystalline or microperforated amorphous modules). Shadow-Voltaic system is also very often part of a BIPV facade. Modules can be fixed or mounted on tracking structures - manual tracking-combined with shadowing system, or automatic tracking systems possible.


ZARA Köln, courtesy Architekturbüro Hagemann ZARA Köln, courtesy Architekturbüro Hagemann

Facade integrated solar modules in Cologne, Germany
image courtesy: Architekturbüro Hagemann

Solar Glazings

In photovoltaic applications (also in BIPV systems) low iron tempered glass is usually used. Glazing can be made as simple glass/glass laminate or as complex isolation glass/glass laminate. Special laminates with coloured back sides have also been produced. Due to safety requirements for lamination usually PVB foil instead of EVA foil is used - especially for laminates used in transparent roofs. PVB have been used for decades in automotive industry - laminated safety windscreen glass. Laminate can consist of monocrytalline cells, thin film cells or from transparent cells. For details please see transparent solar cells and modules section or module section.

BIPV Projects and Sollutions


Architects


Other Commercial Available BIPV Products


Recommended Books

www Commission of the European Communities, (1993), Solar Architecture in Europe, Prism Pr Ltd, ISBN 978-1853270734.
www Schneider, A. (1996), Solararchitektur für Europa. Birkhäuser. ISBN 978-3764353810.
www Hagemann, I., (2002), Gebäudeintegrierte Photovoltaik: Architektonische Integration der Photovoltaik in die Gebäudehülle; Rudolf Müller Publisher. Köln, ISBN 2002, ISBN 3-481-01776-6.
www Prasad, D., Snow, M., (2005), Designing with Solar Power: A Source Book for Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV); Earthscan, London 2005, ISBN 1-844071-47-2.
www Gaiddon, B., Kaan, H., Munro, D., (2009), Photovoltaics in the Urban Environment: Lessons Learnt from Large Scale Projects; Earthscan, London 2009, ISBN 978-1-84407-771-7.
www Roberts, S. Guariento, N., (2009), Building Integrated Photovoltaics, a Handbook; Birkhäuser Architecture.
www Sick, F., Erge T., (1995), Photovoltaics in Buildings: A Design Handbook for Architects and Engineers; IEA SHC, Task 16 - Photovoltaics in Buildings.

Reports

report Designing Photovoltaic Systems for Architectural Integration - IEA SHC Task 41, Subtask A: Criteria for Architectural Integration.
report Building Integration of Solar Thermal and Photovoltaics - Barriers, Needs and Strategies - IEA SHC Task 41, Subtask A: Criteria for Architectural Integration.
report Solar Energy Systems in Architecture - Integration Criteria and Guidelines - IEA SHC Task 41, Subtask A: Criteria for Architectural Integration.
report Eiffert, P., Kiss, G.J.: Building-Integrated Photovoltaic; Designs for Commercial and Institutional Structures - A Sourcebook for Architects.
report Kiss, G.J., Kinkead, J. (1996), Optimal Building-Integrated Photovoltaic Applications - Kiss + Company Architects, 1996.
report Eiffert, P. (2003), Building Integrated Photovoltaic Power Systems Guidelines for Economic Evaluation; January 2003, NREL/TP-550-31977.
report Potential for Building Integrated Photovoltaic; Report T7-04 IEA PVPS Task 7, 2002.
report Schoen, T.J.: Building-Integrated PV installations in The Netherlands: examples and operational experiences; IEA PVPS Task 7, Photovoltaic Power Systems in the Build Environment.
report Zondag, H., Bakker, M., van Helden, W. editors: PVT ROADMAP, A European guide for the development and market introduction of PV-Thermal technology; PV Catapult project, supported by the European Union under contract no. 502775 (SES6).

Papers

report Jelle, P. et al. (2012), Building Integrated Photovoltaic Products: A State-of-the-Art Review and Future Research Opportunities, Solar Energy Materials & Solar Cells, 100, 69-96.
report Jelle, P., Breivik, C. (2012), The Path to the Building Integrated Photovoltaics of Tomorrow, Energy Procedia, Volume 20, 2012, Pages 78-87.
report Jelle, P., Breivik, C. (2012), State-of-the-art Building Integrated Photovoltaics, Energy Procedia, Volume 20, 2012, Pages 68-77.
report Kaan, H., Reijenga, T. (2004), Photovoltaics in an architectural context, Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications, Volume 12, Issue 6, pages 395-408, September 2004.
report Hagemann, I. (2004), Examples of successful architectural integration of PV: Germany, Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications, Volume 12, Issue 6, pages 461-470, September 2004.
report Ohno, J. (2004), Examples of successful architectural integration of PV: Japan, Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications, Volume 12, Issue 6, pages 471-476, September 2004.
report Prasad, D, Snow, M. (2004), Examples of successful architectural integration of PV: Australia, Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications, Volume 12, Issue 6, pages 477-483, September 2004.
report Schoen, T. et al. (1997), Large-scale Distributed PV Projects in The Netherlands, Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications, Volume 5, Issue 3, pages 187-194, May/June 1997.
report Ropp, Michael, E. et al. (1997), Design Considerations for Large Roof-integrated Photovoltaic Arrays, Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications, Volume 5, Issue 1, pages 55-67, January/February 1997.
report Hagemann, I., (1996), Architectural considerations for building-integrated photovoltaics, Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications, Volume 4, Issue 4, pages 247-258, July/August 1996.
report Kiss, G., (1996), The PV infrastructure: Architecture from houses to highways, Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications, Volume 4, Issue 4, pages 259-268, July/August 1996.
report Abbate-Gardner, C. (1996), Open public spaces and street furniture: the potential for increased use of photovoltaics in the built environment, Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications, Volume 4, Issue 4, pages 269-277, July/August 1996.
report Reijenga, T. H. (1996), Photovoltaics in architecture in The Netherlands: an architect's view, Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications, Volume 4, Issue 4, pages 279-294, July/August 1996.

Additional Information

www Astrid Schneider - solar architect, web site with many interesting BIPV examples.
www Innovative solar products for building integration - IEA SHC - Task 41: Solar Energy & Architecture.
www The International Building Performance Simulation Association, IEA PVPS - Task 7, Reports.
www The International Building Performance Simulation Association, IPBSA is a non-profit international society of building performance simulation researchers, developers and practitioners.

Other

www Sanyo Solar Ark - the design of the Solar Ark was inspired by the vision of an ark embarking onto a journey toward the 21st Century.
www Take a tour trough the Maine Solar House; design, solar energy use etc.
www Improving the world through passive solar homes, plans, and solar concepts, TheSolarPlan.com.