The Emerging Aesthetics of Building Integrated Photovoltaics

German research institute, the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) and equipment supplier, Schmid have jointly developed a production line for customizable modules for building-integrated projects. According to Fraunhofer ISE, the concepts developed by joint study could reduce the production cost for BIPV modules as much as 35%.

Building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) has shown plenty of potential in recent years; however, several issues must still be addressed for the technology to see more serious growth. Chief among these are demands that architects and the building industry place on module design, where aesthetics and design choices are just as important as performance.

Looking to address this problem at the production side, Fraunhofer ISE and Schmid undertook a project investigating existing standards and design limitations for BIPV modules, as well as analyzing the market potential and requirements. Based on the findings of the study, which was funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, the two organizations have developed two new production line concepts for flexible series production of BIPV modules.

The production line concepts consider the need to quickly adapt to different module designs, and the modifications needed for integration into different buildings – such as module format, glass color/thickness, solar cell matrix and encapsulation material.

The results obtained from the study show that the combination of mass production and design freedom does not interfere with each other and the production costs of BIPV modules can be reduced by an average of 35% compared to the costs of traditional production processes.