BIPV: Coming to a building near you?
This 500-square-meter (about 5,300-square-foot) BIPV greenhouse in Biscay, Spain, features fully transparent BIPV insulating glass units integrated as curtain wall and skylights. The solution generates 16,380 kilowatt hours per year and avoids the emission of 11 tons of CO2. The building owner is Bodegas Iturralde; the contract glazier, Proiek Habitat and Equipment, www.proiek.com; and the architect, Aterpean, www.aterpean.com. Photo by Onyx Solar.
As a global provider of building integrated photovoltaic systems, Onyx Solar, www.onyxsolar. com, has a unique perspective on the BIPV market. Glass Magazine recently interviewed Diego Cuevas, Onyx Solar Energy, to discuss the future of this technology and what needs to happen in order for the emerging market to grow.
Glass Magazine: What lies ahead for the BIPV market?
Diego Cuevas: Norman Foster said something like ‘solar architecture is not about fashion, but about survival,’ and I think he was totally right. The solar market is growing within all countries, and new solar technologies should drive that growth. In 2010, the global building integrated photovoltaic market reached about 1,200 megawatts installed. The forecast for 2015 positions BIPV as one of the most interesting solar markets to look at, predicting it will reach 11 gigawatts. In the short term, it will be important to keep deploying this technology. Early adopters such as universities; libraries; public buildings; and large, socially responsible corporations are already doing it. This will encourage the construction community to move forward [with BIPV] faster and count on it on a regular and long-term basis.
GM: What are the current challenges facing the BIPV market?
DC: The construction industry needs to have a deeper [understanding] of BIPV. Architects need to acquire enough knowledge to be able to explain BIPV’s advantages and multifunctional properties to their clients. … All building owners, architects and engineers should know how these systems work … and how much the energy efficiency of the building is improved not only by the energy generated onsite, but also through the bioclimatic properties that a PV envelope entails. The ‘who does what’ question is also pretty common, [suggesting there is still some confusion] regarding how a BIPV project is delivered. Local references are also lacking. Many times, a customer wants to see what a large building with a BIPV façade looks like and how it performs, and you have to refer them to a completed project located several hundred miles away. We need more projects to look at!
GM: BIPV remains cost prohibitive for many building owners. How is Onyx addressing this?
DC: I do not really think BIPV remains cost prohibitive for building owners. When customers understand and assess the benefits this technology provides, they realize it is worth the cost. They should keep in mind that for a few extra dollars, they can install a multifunctional BIPV skylight or curtain wall that allows the building to generate energy for 25 years, control natural daylighting, harvest ultraviolet/infrared harmful radiation, and provide acoustic and heat insulation, among other functions. Also, it should be clearly pointed out that BIPV replaces conventional constructive materials; BIPV is not building applied photovoltaics.
GM: Anything else to add?
DC: BIPV has evolved a lot. Forget about crystalline black or blue solar cells covering the whole façade of the building as your only choice. Transparent BIPV glazings are already available, in addition to colors, patterns and designs. It is amazing. Amorphous Silicon technology—to mention one—has been deployed as PV curtain wall and skylights [that offers energy efficiency but also a pleasing aesthetic design].