Versions of BIPV systems

BIPV systems are modern solar photovoltaic power plants that are integrated into buildings and structures, and solar BIPV modules are replacing traditional building materials. BIPV solar power plants have a dual purpose – they generate electricity at the level of traditional rooftop solar power plants, and also serve as structural elements of the building, complementing or completely replacing conventional building materials for facades or roofs. Soon, BIPV systems will be the most active segment in comparison with other types of solar power plants.

The number of private home owners who are interested in switching to renewable energy sources is constantly growing. But often they are forced to give up their desires due to the low aesthetic appeal and bulkiness of conventional solar panels. The use of BIPV solar systems as functional building materials opens up new possibilities for architectural solutions.

Today we will consider several options for the execution of modern BIPV modules (integrated solar panels), which will allow us to get a deeper understanding of how diverse and interesting solar energy can be in combination with other technologies. Roofs, windows, facades, balconies, awnings – all this has the ability to turn into a solar power plant and improve the quality of your life.

Solar tile

Today it is one of mostly discussed, but yet not widespread solutions, when cement or clay tiles on building roof are substituted by observationally equivalent-looking photo-electric modules.

In October 2016 head of Tesla Motors company Elon Musk announced “solar roof”: photo-electric modules, that can replace ordinary tile or metallized tile.  It is declared that “solar tile” will be presented at the market in four options: ground glass, slate, tuscan and texturized. Tiles will be manufactured from quartz glass, therefore their reliability and durability will be 2-3 times better than concrete, clay or metallic counteritems. Thus their efficiency will make 98% as compared to ordinary solar panels. Electric tiles are able to pass solar radiation through, but they look opaque, if you look at it not at right angles.

For this very reason solar panels made as tiles are visually indistinguishable from an ordinary usual roof, what makes their advantage compared to modern roof solar power-stations. Musk announced, that prices on “solar tile” in course of time would become comparable with traditional roofing coverage. The very first samples must appear at the market already in summer 2017.

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Sizes of photovoltaic panel tile are little bit more than standard tile, this allows to minimize electric connections and improve general reliability of the electrical system. The circumstance that weight of photo-electric modules is less than concrete or clay tile, also works to the advantage of photovoltaic tile, and allows to perform roof construction easier, bringing down requirements to bearing strength of walls and foundation. All this results in cost cutouts on construction of a house.

Roll roofing BIPV coverages

One of the most popular building materials for roofing coverages is presented as different options of bitumen-based roll coverages, also called soft tile.

Now producers are ready to offer  equivalent thin-film laminate that combines properties of bitumine coverage and solar battery. These long stripes have basic advantage of minimal quantity of electric connections. Additional benefit is that their installation almost repeats similar processes for traditional bitumine roofing coverages, that opens large horizons before roll-type photo-electric elements in terms of installation in case when repair or replacement of roofing material is needed.

Wall BIPV panels

Lately there is strong interest among modern architects to solar batteries use as facade panels, that allows to create innovative, esthetically attractive building facades.

Perspective of this direction is determined by two factors. First of all, installation of solar panels on the walls of residential houses was actively used in BАPV systems. Second factor is that  prime price of facade panels is just a little higher, than BIPV panels, therefore it will not result in substantial expenses growth in the process of building construction.

Windows (glazing) with PV elements

It is one of very actively developed directions, and in fact one of the most perspective markets. According to researches, commercial buildings consume about 40% of all electric power in the USA and building proprietors are interested to cut off their bills for electricity. According to forecasts, mounting of “solar” windows will cover up to 30-50% of a sky-scraper electric energy necessities; further technological improvements will raise this share even more.

“Solar” windows are installed as transparent thin-film solar batteries that are just sticked over glass in the simplest model. The basic problem of such construction lies in following controversy: useful work of a solar battery is based on absorption and transformation of solar energy. The more solar energy a battery takes in, the less sunlight will get into a room.  Actually, part of solar energy, regenerated into electricity, should be used again to achieve acceptable levels of internal luminosity, especially during morning and evening hours. On the other hand, during daylight time/summer months this partial shading may play quite positive effect, reducing thermal load on an apartment and allowing to bring down energy consumption on apartment conditioning.

The main problem is low productivity of transparent thin-film solar batteries, that now maximally makes about 7%, substantially losing to traditional solar batteries, made from crystalline silicon. Alternative “solar windows”, where photo-electric elements directly become part of glass itself, are now under active development.

Glass/glass solar modules

For today most effective price/quality ratio among BIPV solutions belongs to systems, built on the basis of glass/glass silicon crystalline modules. They combine cheapness of traditional solar panels and aesthetic pleasure of thin film modules. Exactly glass/glass panels will be most demanded product at the market in the nearest 2-3 years.

Foremost, glass/glass modules are able to maintain very large loads about 8000 Ра. For comparison, such pressure on roof of a house is created by 8 m thick snow layer. By this parameter glass/glass modules are 1,5 times more effective than standard solar panels. Other advantages should also be mentioned:

  • Use of special frame allows maximal simplification of installation process for solar modules. A fitter can set up to 4 panels in just 10 minutes after short instruction briefing.
  • Standard solar panels start to lose generation amounts when temperature rises. Glass/glass modules are less rerceptive to thermal influence, at identical temperature values they generate 10% electricity more than standard panels.
  • When installing “glass/glass” modules, there is no necessity in additional preparation of a roof or in making load carrying structures more durable. For example, during capital  roof repair it is enough simply to take off old roofing coverage and set “glass/glass” solar modules into its place. Actually, installation of “glass/glass” modules saves cost of roofing coverage to a house proprietor due to multifunctionness of BIPV panels.

Avenston is engaged in the design and construction of BIPV solar power plants. We have experience in installing solar panels on roofs, facades, as well as on various structures such as awnings. Avenston provides all the services necessary for the successful implementation of projects for the construction of modern BIPV systems. We took part in the construction of the first facility of this type in our country – a rooftop BIPV solar power plant. If you are interested in the topic of roof and facade solar power plants BIPV, please contact Avenston.