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Building-integrated solar power turns buildings into power plants

Multiple alternatives could replace or complement rack-mounted PV arrays.

April 28, 2021 |

Courtesy Pixabay

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), buildings and the construction sector combined are responsible for nearly 40% of total direct and indirect CO2 emissions.

Emerging technologies are making it possible to mitigate that impact by turning buildings into power plants, a concept called building-integrated solar power (BIPV). Rack-mounted PV arrays on rooftops are the most common way to generate solar power on buildings, but this solution has some drawbacks.

Some consider rack-mounted PVs as eyesores, particularly when considered for historic buildings. This can be a barrier to wider adoption in urban architecture.

Other options including monocrystalline solar panels, dye-sensitized solar cells, and perovskites make it possible to alter the color of solar power generating cells. This makes them more attractive than conventional PVs and suitable for use on facades and walls. In some formulations, these materials can be made semi-transparent so that they can be used for fenestration.


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