Building integration of photovoltaic (BIPV) has been anticipated as a “market boom” for many years, but, in practice, none of the predictions has hit the market, mainly because of the cost adds-on as compared to conventional PV. But further barriers have to be overcome in order to achieve a larger BIPV deployment. These include some technological oriented aspects, such as the reliability with time and hence definition of new standards of such products where the PV components must be considered as a building elements. Furthermore, social factors also play a role, as architects, investors and home-owners are not yet always aware of the availability of such products or afraid by possible maintenance issues. All these aspects strongly limit the deployment of BIPV, despite an advantageous versatility with BIPV products extending from rigid to flexible, from colored to semi-transparent, and even customized-sized elements.

Lay summary

Content and research objectives

The main goal of this project is to investigate the major reasons and obstacles to a massive PV integration and to propose possible solutions. For this purpose, this project will (i) offer a better understanding of the failures and success of past and present BIPV solutions, in terms of technological choice, cost potential and acceptance; (ii) analyze BIPV solutions that have the potential to reach sufficient acceptance, (iii) propose a new methodology for the development of BIPV products, including a global failure model for the PV parts and (iv) demonstrate a next generation of BIPV products that satisfy manufacturability and low ecological footprint, with the potential of providing a substantial part of the Swiss electricity while generating an industrial value. Furthermore, practical cases will be assessed on sets of selected buildings in Neuchâtel.

Scientific and social context of the research

This project will generate new and essential information concerning technological issues and social barriers and it will propose solutions to overcome them. Hence, the outcome of this project will be of considerable value for the PV and building actors, including architects and installers. Furthermore, this project should significantly increase the public awareness towards BIPV.