Building Integrated Photovoltaic Modules

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Building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) are photovoltaic materials that are used to replace conventional building materials in parts of the building envelope, such as the roof, skylights, or facades. They are increasingly being incorporated into the construction of new buildings as a principal or ancillary source of electrical power, although existing buildings may be retrofitted with similar technology. The advantage of integrated photovoltaics over more common non-integrated systems is that the initial cost can be offset by reducing the amount spent on building materials and labour that would normally be used to construct the part of the building that the BIPV modules replace. These advantages make BIPV one of the fastest growing segments of the photovoltaic industry.

A BIPV module concept in India has been installed at Gandhinagar in Gujarat. Actually, it is a solar PV module only but with a different feature for its kind. Normally, solar modules are either placed on the rooftop, on streetlight pole, or mounted on the ground for large scale projects and many other applications.

BIPV modules are placed on the ‘used to replace’ conventional building materials in parts of the building envelope, such as the roof, skylights, or facades. BIPV as the name suggests are solar modules that integrate into the building, walls, windows, roofs, etc. These integrate very well into the building structures and thus give a more elegant look to the construction. These are especially designed materials with ancillary source of electrical power. Both new construction as well as older ones can use this technology. The advantages of using BIPV modules are as follows:

ƒ Aesthetically pleasing ƒ Saves building materials and labour costs ƒ Can be used on weaker building structures and roofs where solar panels cannot be installed ƒ Can be used on structures, such as facades and skylights where solar panels cannot be installed.

Construction of transparent solar
modules (glass to glass). Single glazing (left) and thermal insulating glazing (right) laminated with PVB foil

As roof-integrated transparent modules, usually glass-glass laminates without frame are used. For special roof types, curved roof plastic laminates are used. Crystalline cells are the most common solution— transparency rate is defined by distance between solar cells (as larger the distance the larger the transparency rate of transparent modules). For roof integrated glazing’s, use of laminated safety insulating glass modules is obligatory due to safety issues.

Significantly, BIPV systems generate electricity and allow for the entry of natural light and also provide heat insulation to the building. The PV panels are integrated aesthetically into the architecture of the building.

Source: Neety Euro Asia Solar Energy (