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What Is BIPV?

December 20, 2011 | Comments: 0 | Views: 133

Building integrated PV uses photovoltaic materials to take the place of conventional materials that would normally be used to cover a building's roof and walls. The solar PV modules used in BIPV do not just act as technical components for generating electricity. They also perform as weatherproof construction materials and comfortably integrate into the building envelope.

Solar PV Design

Solar PV modules offer enormous potential to architects and engineers. When the decision is made to integrate solar PV into the building, the whole design process must take account of it. The inclusion of PV modules influences the building's orientation, footprint, layout and form and BIPV will have a considerable affect on the building fabric.

Integrated PV

As well as generating electricity, an important benefit of building integrated solar PV is that some of its capital cost will be offset by reducing the amount spent on construction materials that would ordinarily have been used in traditional buildings.

PV Orientation

The orientation of the building is an important factor, as only the south facing roof and walls will be suitable for solar PV integration. In the northern hemisphere, the sun will not reach the north facing walls of a building so the visual treatment of these non-solar PV areas must be considered separately.

PV Electricity Demand

Building integrated PV must be considered as an essential part of the energy strategy of the building. The artificial heating and lighting demand must be minimized and the, fixed and portable, electrical equipment must operate as efficiently as possible. The building's total electricity demand must be calculated to establish accurately the area of the building's surface that will ultimately be covered with photovoltaic modules. Where electricity is generated in-house, for use in the host building, there is the underlying benefit that the transmission and distribution losses will be negligible.

BIPV Architecture

Building integrated PV presents architects with a host of opportunities to integrate new materials, colours, textures and shapes onto the exteriors of their buildings. A large variety of standard and special solar PV modules are prefabricated for the building integrated PV market.

Small Roof Integrated PV

Solar tiles are a much neater alternative to 'bolt on' solar panels for the pitched roofs of houses and small commercial buildings. Solar PV roof tiles are manufactured to the same modular size as large format roof tiles so that they can be integrated into a newly constructed roof or into an existing roof when the roof covering is being replaced.

Large Roof Integrated PV

Waterproof solar PV roofing membrane is available for medium and large commercial and industrial roofs. This high performance roofing solution can be used on new or replacement roofs. It is lightweight, flexible and offers reliable weather protection while, at the same time, converting the sun's energy into electricity.

PV Rainscreen Cladding

Rainscreen cladding is an established building façade system. It consists of a metal sub-frame in-filled with cladding panels, typically of bricks, brick tiles, terra cotta tiles or ceramic tiles. A variety of solar photovoltaic infill panels, in the form of transparent, semi-transparent or opaque glass, can be incorporated into a rainscreen grid.

PV Glass Curtain Walling

Curtain walling is a very popular, non structural, facade treatment used in commercial building design. It is very stylish, has modern clean lines and is aesthetically pleasing. Curtain walling systems are available with solar PV cells encapsulated between panes of toughened glass. The glass can be opaque or transparent and double or triple glazed with the integrated solar cells.

PV Atria and Canopies

Atria and canopies are horizontal or sloping surfaces where photovoltaic modules can be applied. Solar PV cells can be incorporated into patent glazing over atria and canopies. The PV integration is visible from the inside of the building and the proportion of opaque can be adjusted to provide transparent, semi-transparent or opaque sun shading.

Solar PV Architecture

Solar energy is set to play an increasing role in generating the form and affecting the appearance of modern buildings. As more architects gain experience in incorporating photovoltaic systems into the built environment, this relatively new technology will blend almost invisibly into the worlds urban and rural landscapes.

For more information on building integrated photovoltaics visit

David Stoppard is the Editor of and a group of associated websites that deal with the issues surrounding eco-friendly building. The websites have evolved from an architectural practice with a keen interest in energy conscious design. Its members have set out to promote energy saving measures, sustainability and renewable energy technology in building, in order to help, protect the environment, secure future energy supplies and reduce fuel poverty.

Source: EzineArticles
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