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The facade of RISE EMC lab consists of solar cells
Photo: Peter Kovacs

Test bed for building integrated PV (BIPV)

The test bed aims to create the conditions for a high quality, safe, efficient and aesthetically pleasing solar electricity production in our built environment. As a player, you are offered the opportunity to test and design products and services to achieve the optimal combination when it comes to costs, energy production and material savings.

Since 2020, RISE has been running a project aimed at establishing a test bed for building integrated solar photovoltaics (BIVP). The project will focus on exploring the needs of various actors with an interest in PV in the built environment. On the client side, for example, property owners, architects and construction contractors. On the supply side, mainly solar cell companies and construction product manufacturers. The test bed should then be developed to meet these needs. Another goal is to develop a basis for certification of BIVP products.

Purpose and goal
The main purpose of the project is to investigate the conditions for, and initiate the establishment of, a test bed dedicated to high-quality, safe, efficient and aesthetically pleasing solar panels in the built environment. Effective here means that the products and services that are developed in conjunction with them are designed in a way that provides an optimal combination of costs, energy production and material savings.

For those who develop the products: solar contractors and construction product manufacturers, this means that the test bed can be designed so that new products can be tested and adapted for modern building production without sacrificing the technical requirements of buildings and ensuring an uncomplicated process. For construction contractors, it is extremely important that products taken in by subcontractors can be tested at an early stage in order to avoid the risk of serious damage or accidents in buildings with BIPV products in the future.

The challenge
More than 90% of the fast-growing Swedish solar production takes place on or in connection with our buildings. Many of the photovoltaic installations remain more or less invisible as long as they are not viewed from above or up close. In these installations, one does not have to take the aesthetic into account but can make it "simple and cheap" without compromising with quality. However, many visible installations remain and as the market grows, these represent an increasingly tangible feature of our cityscapes. The requirements for aesthetics are thus increasing and the same applies to the need to reduce material and resource consumption.

Aesthetics and efficient use of materials are qualities that building-integrated solar can deliver, but nevertheless, the concept has not yet succeeded after more than 30 years. The reason is mainly that the price is often too high, but sometimes also that the reliability has suffered compared to the state of the art alternative building applied installation. Lacking knowledge and uncertainty of clients, building contractors and architects are other explanations for choosing well-established building-applied solutions or refraining from investing in solar energy.

The absence of strong incentives in the form of demanding building codes or certifications that highlight solar energy has also hampered solar energy development in general, but this is now changing. Near zero energy requirements that will take effect in 2020 as well as the general public's deeper understanding of the seriousness of the climate challenges is driving the solar market in general as well as the demand for good BIPV solutions.

The solution
A test bed for building integrated solar panels (BIPV) addresses future building-connected solar installations and aims to make them economically competitive, aesthetically pleasing and at the same time minimize the use of materials in construction. The latter is achieved by the fact that the solar cells can function as a building material and thus deliver more functions than the electricity generation alone.

Implementation
The implementation is primarily about meeting the intended users of the test bed and the various actors expected to benefit from its operations and results. The main purpose is to better understand what is required of a successful test bed for BIPV, but the exchange of information needs to be bi-directional. On the project side, we also want to impart knowledge and information about a resource under construction and about the challenges in particular about the collaboration, costs and quality we see associated with the introduction of BIPV.

The work will be done through interviews, study visits and a workshop.

Effect
In the long run, the test bed is expected to contribute to strengthening the customers' confidence in the technology and to developing more cost-effective solutions, paving the way for a growing market. With a stronger home market and access to qualified development resources, the competitiveness of Swedish companies in a global giant market is also strengthened.


Summary

Project name

BIPV Test bed

Status

Active

Region

Västra Götaland Region

RISE role in project

Initiator and coordinator

Project start

Duration

One year

Partner

F.O Petersson & Söner, Swedens oldest building contractor business

Funders

Västra Götalandsregionens Regionutvecklingsnämnd, Svenska Byggbranschens Utvecklingsfond

Project members

Supports the UN sustainability goals

7. Affordable and clean energy
11. Sustainable cities and communities
13. Climate action
Peter Kovacs

Contact person

Peter Kovacs

Senior Projektledare

+46 10 516 56 62
peter.kovacs@ri.se

Read more about Peter