- BIPV is evolving as an important emerging applications of PV. The BIPV products must adhere to the requirements of PV as well as the construction industry
- The current market offers a wide variety of BIPV products – from colored solar modules, PV rooftiles, solar curtain walls to PV sunshades
- BIPV as a segment is attracting companies with different backgrounds – from startups, small boutique companies to mainstream module makers
BIPV is an interesting branch emerging from the traditional rooftop market, which is more or less building-attached PV (BAPV). But unlike BAPV, where the building components and PV components retain their original characteristics, the PV power generation attribute is integrated into the building components in the case of BIPV. The products adhere to the requirements of PV as well as the construction industry such as sound insulation, natural lighting, architectural aesthetics, color and electrical performance. BIPV has several advantages including wider application scenarios, better aesthetics, the option of amortizing the price of the PV module over the construction materials they replace, and the overall installation costs are lower than a BAPV project.
While BIPV products have been around for many years, its gigantic potential is yet untapped. However, it seems the big time for BIPV is approaching. With climate change and energy security considerations, solar integrated products for new buildings are starting to gain traction. According to Leo Cong, Global Product Manager from JinkoSolar, who presented a BIPV Market Analysis and introduced a new product at TaiyangNews’ Virtual Conference On Solar Module Innovations 2021 emphasized that energy consumption of buildings accounts for 36% of global power consumption (see BIPV Market Analysis And Product Introduction). Thus, many developed countries are seeing a trend of ultralow energy buildings with high energy efficiency. BIPV is one of the most effective ways to improve the energy efficiency of buildings.
With mandatory solar or incentives for new buildings and renovations, and solar becoming a standard feature of buildings, BIPV will be the way to go. The variety of BIPV products is big – from colored solar modules, PV rooftiles, solar curtain walls to PV sunshades – a lot is possible, and will only get more. While there are several small module makers active and profitable in this segment for many years, now the major global module manufacturers are joining this segment. In the following paragraphs, we list just a few examples of module players active in BIPV.
JinkoSolar, for example, introduced its new curtain wall product range at the TaiyangNews conference. Available in different variants, the innovation does not only come in terms of customizing the size and shape of panels, but also the aesthetics including color, texture and transmittance of the BIPV component. Not just the color, but the size, shape and power can also be adjusted as required. An important characteristic of BIPV is quality and reliability. Requirement for reliability are higher than for traditional modules attached to a building as the product becomes an integral part of the building skin. Towards that end, JinkoSolar has designed their curtain walls based on double layers of toughened glass and PVB encapsulation film, which collectively provide greater impact resistance, sound insulation and, most importantly, enhanced mechanical load by over 50%, according to Cong. JinkoSolar is also working on a steel roofing tile solution — yet another variant from the company’s BIPV product range.
Chint-Astronergy is ready with such a product and also presented details at TaiyangNews’ Solar Module Innovations Conference 2021. Called Telogy, the product is a preassembled solar module on an industrial rooftile. A double-glass module is attached on the top of hot-dip galvanized Zn-Al-Mg composite base plate with detachable fasteners. According to Chint-Astronergy, the main advantage of the solution versus a traditional solar rooftop is that it is free from water leakage, apart from several other benefits such as better fire protection, thermal insulation and aesthetics (see Innovated Application Of Applying Solar Module On Steel Tile Rooftop).
Mitrex Integrated Solar Technology from Canada has developed an innovative concept of integrated solar cladding. The solution transforms typical single-purpose building materials into a multi-purpose cladding that, in addition to acting as a building envelope, also generates power. Mitrex’s solution is applicable to both existing and new facades. The company’s panels are lightweight, and at the same time provide thermal insulation and noise barrier besides pleasing aesthetics. The BIPV module are available in transparent, opaque, translucent version with the option of customization. The panels are backed with either an aluminum honeycomb or a glass sheet, are flexible and can be adjusted and altered as per the needs of the specific projects.
3S Solar Plus AG, a Swiss based spin-off from the well-known equipment maker turned PV manufacturer Meyer Burger, has been promoting its range of BIPV products for years and realized many beautiful projects. Its flagship product range called MegaSlate is mainly offered in three different product variants — solar roofs, solar façade and solar railings. Among the mainstream module suppliers, Megasol is promoting colored modules for BIPV applications.