The photovoltaic (PV) ventilated façade curtain wall and roof system are a product with undeniable aesthetic value and unbeatable in terms of heat insulation that generates free electricity from the sun.
The generated electricity can be translated directly to the mains supply system, thus being marketed to the large suppliers, or be used for personal consumption (isolated system).
Earlier generations of PV for buildings utilized solar panels mounted directly onto the building roof with minimal aesthetic considerations. This concept was replaced by building-integrated PV systems, where the PV modules actually came to replace parts of the building envelope, providing functional considerations and lowering costs. More recently, thin-film PV technologies have begun to enable the seamless integration of PV onto buildings, and will likely succeed in markets where their superior flexibility, minimal weight, and improved ability to perform in variable lighting conditions gives them a significant competitive advantage over conventional solar technologies.
However the success of creating new BIPV markets will depend on many variables, including:
1. Concerted efforts by players in the BIPV supply chain to work together towards the design and integration of solar into the building envelope;
2. Costs in $/Wp, as well as the building industry’s preferred metric of $/m2, of product and power availability;
3. Development of specific standards and building codes;
4. Availability of federal and local incentives to ensure cost effectiveness;
5. Added value for consumers and architects; and
6. Ease of production and the scale at which a production plant becomes economically feasible.
Incentive schemes in favour of BIPV
For some time, thin-film solar technologies have not been at a price point to make them truly competitive with conventional solar-based panel systems that are just "slapped" onto buildings, but this is changing due to the current round of incentive schemes, and GTM research expects that thin-film solar technologies will soon play a significant energy role in both the applications and the markets in which conventional solar materials are currently employed, as well as in markets where conventional solar materials are unsuitable for various reasons, such as façades, roofs and window applications.
A definition of BIPV and BAPV
There is some confusion regarding the definition of BIPV within both the PV industry and the building industry. GTM Research defines BIPV as building-integrated PV, which requires that the building team along the entire supply chain - including architects, building designers, engineers, building owners and utility companies - work together to design and build the photovoltaics into the building’s very "skin" as an element, from the inception of the project onwards. BAPV, on the other hand, is defined as building-applied PV. In this process, the photovoltaics are a retrofit, added to the building after construction is completed.
The thermal surrounding methods can result in a 25-40% reduction of the energy consumed by a building.
Depending upon the orientation of the façade, building location, and the photovoltaic technology implemented, the electricity produced by our system in just one square metre can vary between 20-40 kW/h per annum; sufficient energy to supply up to 10,000 hours of light from 20W energy saving light bulbs.
In addition to the obvious environmental benefits, in countries where the sale of electricity is regulated and incentive based, through an obligatory subsidy from the electrical companies, one metre squared of ventilated roof can generate a net benefit in its lifetime (25 years) of more than 1000 Euros.
From a financial point of view, depending upon the type of building and its location, our ventilated façades and roofs can achieve an Internal Return Rate (IRR) greater than 25% and an outstanding payback time.