In recent years, an innovative PV solution, i.e. BIPV panels integrated with buildings, has been gaining popularity. Industrial and public facilities and all types of buildings account for almost half of global energy consumption. For this reason, the use of green solutions that contribute to reducing this consumption also mitigates the negative effects of climate change. Photovoltaics generates a minimal amount of greenhouse gases compared to burning fossil fuels. It is also the most promising source of renewable energy, thanks to the simplicity of operation, maintenance and the ability to effectively use solar energy. BIPV installations on buildings, which transform them from energy consumers to producers, are becoming more and more common in urban spaces around the world.
What are BIPV systems?
BIPV (Building Integrated Photovoltaics) is a technology that integrates photovoltaic products with a building. Photovoltaic panels are made of modern materials that replace traditional parts of the building structure. The requirements for this type of PV modules are high, as they must not only meet the task of generating energy but also the functional requirements of buildings.
It can be said that BIPV is a combination of building and photovoltaics. Photovoltaic modules used for roofs, facades and windows can be used both as building materials and to generate energy. In frame buildings, the entire outer envelope can be transformed into a photovoltaic array, equipped with modules that absorb both direct and reflected sunlight. Special large, colorful modules were developed for this purpose, taking into account the aesthetics of the building. BIPV as a photovoltaic system integrated with a building and can be used as an independent power source or supply energy to the grid if connected to it.
Types of PV modules
BIPV installations mainly use thin-film panels, which are light, flexible and can take various shapes. In addition to standard photovoltaic panels, photovoltaic roof tiles are also available, creating the so-called solar roofs (Solar Roof). Additionally, systems integrated with the building include photovoltaic shelters in the form of carports. In this case, you can also use bifacial panels (bifacial, glass-glass, double glass).
Thin-film panels have many advantages, including:
– possibility of installation without the need to use an additional reinforcing frame or reinforcements,
– low sensitivity to high temperatures, which means that their efficiency does not drop significantly during hot weather,
– high power – the energy efficiency of second-generation panels is from 6% to 10%, even with low sunlight.
They are manufactured from various materials such as: amorphous silicon, cadmium telluride (CdTe), amorphous silicone (a-Si), a combination of copper, indium, gallium and selenium (CIGS) or gallium arsenide (GaAs).
Bifacial panels consist of cells closed between two transparent layers of tempered glass or other transparent material. The difference between bifacial and single-sided panels is the lack of a back layer of protective foil, known as backsheet (EVA foil). These panels are characterized by high resistance to static loads and chemical damage. It is estimated that they can generate 20% more energy than single-sided panels. To achieve this effect, they should be mounted at an angle that will allow the lower side to capture the most light from reflections and from the setting or rising sun. The surface on which they are mounted must have a high ability to reflect sunlight, i.e. high albedo. Examples of such surfaces are white roofing material (50-60%), gravel or sand (60%).
BAPV and BIPV – what are the differences between these systems?
Depending on the installation method and building structure, PV systems are classified into two types: building-integrated BIPV photovoltaic systems and standard building applied photovoltaic modules (BAPV). The latter are mounted on buildings in such a way that they do not constitute their integral part, i.e. they can be dismantled at any time, without the need to replace the defect in the facade or roof with another element.
Although both BAPV and BIPV fit into the building applications of photovoltaic systems, there are some important differences in their design and installation procedures.
The BIPV system is integrated into building structures, which not only meets the need to generate electricity, but also functions as part of the building. It is an integration of a photovoltaic product and building materials that can replace traditional building materials such as glass, stone and roof tiles.
The BAPV system is directly attached to buildings using additional mounting structures and sliding rails. In this case, it does not directly affect the structures of buildings and the way they function.
BIPV, as a photovoltaic energy generation system, provides environmentally friendly, clean electricity that is mainly used to meet the building’s needs. Photovoltaic modules also have the task of protecting against wind, rain and heat. If they are removed, the building will lose these functions. However, BAPV does not provide the building with waterproofing and wind protection functions. Moreover, it increases the load on the building and affects the overall appearance.
In the BAPV vs. BIPV comparison, photovoltaic panels integrated with the building clearly win in terms of innovation and economic profitability.
What are the advantages of BIPV?
The many advantages of this modern photovoltaic technology include:
– production of green solar energy that does not pollute the environment, has no ecological side effects, and its source is inexhaustible,
– does not take up additional space. Different types of BIPV modules are installed on roofs or external walls. This solution is especially valuable in cities, where each meter of land that would have to be additionally allocated for a PV installation is very expensive,
– energy saving in buildings – BIPV absorbs solar energy in the form of electricity, significantly lowering the integrated outdoor temperature, reducing wall heat and the cold load of indoor air conditioning.
How to install BIPV panels on a building facade?
For the proper functioning of the entire installation, an excellent system for mounting PV panels on the building is necessary. One of the best ways to place them on the facade currently available on the market is the BIPV system from AGS. Our offer includes glued and mechanically fastened substructures. Glued ones are used to assemble frameless modules – glass-glass type, while mechanically fastened ones are used to assemble modules with frames. Both allow the panels to be installed vertically or horizontally.
BIPV installation systems from AGS are manufactured from materials with proven non-flammability and fire-retardant properties. In the event of a fire, the mountings maintain their integrity, ensuring the evacuation of people for up to 120 minutes. They thus meet legal standards for mounting photovoltaic structures on tall and high-rise buildings, i.e. more than 25 meters above ground level. They require that photovoltaic structures be mechanically attached and the substructures be made of non-flammable materials.
In addition, AGS photovoltaic facade structures have 20 mm gaps between the insulating material and the surface cladding. Therefore, when designing them, care was taken to properly remove moisture and improve the thermal insulation of the building. The BIPV system is based on steel passive consoles, covered with an innovative Magnelis® metallic coating, ensuring long-lasting anti-corrosion protection.
We also offer other fastening systems, including: aluminum profiles or steel profiles serving as gratings for mounting external cladding.
Integrating photovoltaics and building can effectively reduce energy consumption. Low-carbon and even zero-emission construction allows for savings, reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, and thus environmental protection. As the costs of photovoltaics decrease, the solutions offered by BIPV are attracting more and more attention from investors who notice their economic benefits. It is worth getting to know Building Integrated Photovoltaics better and taking it into account when planning investments!