Solar panels are well known by being installed in our rooftops or in large solar plants. In this blog, it has been also mentioned how floating solar panels have been already installed in some regions. Now, we are going to focus on the photovoltaic energy that could be obtained in a building itself.
Even if we are all familiar with these solar panels, how could we actually obtain more electricity in our buildings? And most importantly, why is it important to increase the self-generation in buildings?
Currently, buildings account for 40% of energy consumption in the EU and 36% of CO2 emissions. Moreover, more than 35% of buildings are over 50 years old, which means that have a big room for improvement in terms of efficiency and self-consumption.
In the 2020 Climate & Energy package, it was established that energy efficiency in buildings should increase by 20%, target that will not be reached by every country. In order to improve this metric and adapt to the energy transition, there are two main things that could be done:
- Improve the efficiency of the old buildings, which, as mentioned, have a larger room for improvement.
- Shift the way that houses are currently powered.
If we wanted to further develop the second statement, but there is almost no space for solar panels on the rooftop, or the area is too small. How could we increase the energy produced by solar panels?
What is BIPV?
BIPV stands for Building Integrated Photovoltaics. As its name suggests, these solar panels are part of the building, so they do not only generate electricity but also replace regular construction materials of the buildings.
One of the main challenges of BIPV is its features. Panels do not only need to generate electricity but also accomplish structural requirements. Moreover, they need to be aesthetic and keep a decent efficiency of the solar panels, which increases their cost.
However, some examples are started to be seen in cities, and some projects have been carried out, such as the Monte Rosa Hut and the Greeting to the sun project:
Monte Rosa Hut
The Monte Rosa Hut is a Swiss mountain refuge, with solar panels integrated into the façade of the building. The building is almost self-sufficient and was developed by the university ETH.
Greeting to the sun
This project is a flat roof formed by 300 PV plates in Croatia. The energy produced during the day is used to create a dynamic light spectacle at night.
In order to conclude, even if today BIPV are still a bit expensive, assuming a decrease in the price of PV during the following years, it will be easier for everyone to get their PV windows or tiles at home.
I hope you learnt something today, and see you next week!
Written by: Júlia Bayascas & Aralar Irigoyen.
 European Comission, “Buildings – Energy – European Commission,” 2014. [Online]. Available: https://ec.europa.eu/energy/en/topics/energyefficiency/buildings.
 IEA, “World Energy Outlook 2016 – Executive Summary – English version,” 2016.
 European Commission, “2020 climate & energy package – Climate Action – European Commission,” [Online]. Available:
 J. R. Fabien Crassard, The evolution of building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) in the German and French technological innovation systems for solar cells, Göteborg, Sweden: CHALMERS UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY, 2007.
 L. Rapley, “Five impressive integrated solar solutions for buildings,” Architecture design, 24 January 2014. [Online]. Available: http://www.architectureanddesign.com.au/features/list/fiveimpressive-integrated-solar-solutions-for-bui.