BIPV - Building Integrated Photovoltaic

BIPV in Eurac

BIPV (Building Integrated Photovoltaic) is one of the applied research fields of Eurac Research. Within the Eurac Institute for Renewable Energy, a specialized group of experts on photovoltaic energy systems carry out several activities focusing on the analysis of solar resources, performance and reliability of PV modules and systems and their integration into buildings and electricity grids.

Our experts look at BIPV with an overall approach, dealing with a wide variety of tasks, like as the early design, the market analysis, the simulation, the prototyping, the indoor and outdoor testing, the monitoring, the support to BIPV designers, producers, installers and dealers.

 

 

The aim is to boost the BIPV penetration in the building sector, overcoming common existing barriers. Our BIPV platform shows realized case studies and products (modules, mounting systems, energy systems) to architects, clients, developers. It provides inspiring example and lesson learnt from past experiences, and keep people updated about the BIPV market. We would encourage designers to consider the potential of BIPV, which is a multi-functional technology, by definition.

 

Our definition of BIPV is strictly connected to what recommended within IEA-PVPS Task 15, an International Energy Agency (IEA) project where Eurac Research is involved, aiming to create an enabling framework to accelerate the penetration of BIPV products in the global market of renewables energies.

 

“A BIPV module is a PV module and a construction product together, designed to be a component of the building. A BIPV product is the smallest (electrically and mechanically) non-divisible photovoltaic unit in a BIPV system which retains building-related functionality. If the BIPV product is dismounted, it would have to be replaced by an appropriate construction product.

A BIPV system is a photovoltaic system in which the PV modules satisfy the definition above for BIPV products. It includes the electrical components needed to connect the PV modules to external AC or DC circuits and the mechanical mounting systems needed to integrate the BIPV products into the building.”

 

This definition comes from a review of various IEA Tasks and Research Projects [1], which focus on several criteria to define BIPV (e.g. multi-functionality, architectural application, geometric criteria, shading issues, collaboration within the building team, aesthetic quality, etc.). Despite the existing BIPV definitions, the purpose of the BIPV platform is to suggest an overall concept of PV integration. It condenses all the criteria above into account in three main aspects that we believe essential to succeed in the BIPV system design, i.e. technology integration, aesthetic integration, energy integration.

Several rules for the technology integration are already identified at international level [2]. PV modules should effectively play the role of traditional building components, e.g. provide protection from weather and noise, or heat insulation, security, daylight control, and so on. It should guarantee the constructive functionality. The aesthetic integration is also commonly discussed, as it is a critical point, often considered as an obstacle for the BIPV dissemination. In order to reach an architecturally pleasing composition, the PV modules should be in harmony with the total image of the building according colour, texture, size, position. The energy integration is something essential to investigate as it refers to the PV interaction with the building and district energy system in order to maximize the local use of the produced electricity. Energy provided by PV should be effectively managed within buildings and districts. In our opinion, the energy integration will become more and more important to cope with new ways to conceive the building, not as simple consumer anymore, but as a micro energy hub consuming, producing, storing and supplying energy into a bigger energy system.

 

We provide designers with an overall perspective on these three aspects. There are interactive links between the several kinds of products (modules, mounting systems, energy systems) and the case studies. Within the case studies of our BIPV platform, different levels of technology, aesthetic and energy integration are achieved. A wide variety of BIPV configurations is defined by PV material, colour, size, mounting structure, architectural integration, connection with the buildings’ energy system. The case studies represent both private and public sector, giving an overview of different approaches to the BIPV matter. A detailed description of each case study together with pictures is provided in order to evaluate the BIPV projects from different points of view.

 

[1]   IEA PVPS Task 15, "International definitions of “BIPV”", 2018.

[2]   CENELEC, “EN 50583 - Photovoltaics in buildings”, 2016.

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