European Commission logo
English English
CORDIS - EU research results

Improved Building Integration of PV by using Thin Film Modules in CIS Technology (BIPV-CIS)

Final Report Summary - BIPV-CIS (Improved Building Integration of PV by using Thin Film Modules in CIS Technology)

Building integration of photovoltaic (PV) systems leads in most cases to a 'high tech' and 'modern' appearance of the building, caused by the typical window-like surface of most conventional PV modules. Considering however that 90 % of the building stock consists of already existing and 'old fashioned' buildings, it is evident that an aesthetically satisfying building integration of PV needs a lot of good will from planners and creativity from architects. In many existing building-integrated PV systems the modules do not harmonise with the building and its surroundings.

The market for refurbishing and modernisation of old buildings is much larger than the market for new buildings. Therefore it is not only an aesthetical but also an important economic issue to open up this market.

There was a very broad approach to building integration of CIS modules as two proposals were merged by the European Commission. The project consortium consisted of seven industrial partners, two research institutes and three universities.

Integration of PV into the ventilated building skin as well as into the insulated building skin, a CIS roof tile for roof integration at reasonable cost, a junction box and electrical connectors were developed within the project.

A technical screening of patterned, matt-finished and coloured cover architectural glasses regarding aesthetical aspects and their usability in modified CIS thin film modules was carried out. 35 glasses were measured in detail.

Enquiries on cover glass prices and delivery conditions for patterned, delustred and coloured cover glass were carried out. Furthermore the module verso appearance of CIS modules was examined.

Legal and administrative aspects were taken into consideration in studies elaborated concerning European building regulations which strongly influence the construction and dimensioning of the modules and often forbid the use of what is known as standard PV modules in building integration.

A market study was carried out in the frame of four seminars that were held at Newcastle (United Kingdom), Madrid (Spain), Milano (Italy) and Amsterdam (the Netherlands), leading to a detailed overview on market need.

This work lead to the realisation of two small generators of approximately one kW and a mock-up. One transom mullion façade and one structural sealant façade with prefabricated elements containing CIS modules in double glazing units and a demonstrator of a façade element with more than 2 m2.

The second system was mountable from outside on a structural silicone application. There was no visible external frame between the individual elements and no shading which advantageous for the PV modules.

A cost optimised junction box especially suited for thin film modules was developed in the project. The limitation to only one bypass diode per box allowed a reduction in both size and cost. A solution for the invisible connection for modules integrated in the insulated building skin was developed as a prototype.

A PV tile for roof integration based on a frame which was realized by injection moulding around a CIS module was developed as well. A European market survey on roof tiles and solar roof tiles was carried out. Material compatibility tests were carried out. It was found, however, that the economic advantages of thin film technology concerning small sizes were lower than the industry partner expected. Therefore, this part of the project was finalised at the planning and testing level.

CIS modules were installed outdoors at Widderstall (Germany), Ispra (Italy), Warsaw and Wrozlaw (both Poland) for a detailed electrical monitoring. One PV façade was successfully tested according to the relevant façade standards on water and air tightness.