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Building-integrated photovoltaics

Building integrated photovoltaics

Building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) are photovoltaic materials that are used to replace conventional building materials in parts of the building envelope such as the roof, skylights, or facades. They are increasingly being incorporated into the construction of new buildings as a principal or ancillary source of electrical power, although existing buildings may be retrofitted with BIPV modules as well. The advantage of integrated photovoltaics over more common non-integrated systems is that the initial cost can be offset by reducing the amount spent on building materials and labor that would normally be used to construct the part of the building that the BIPV modules replace. In addition, since BIPV are an integral part of the design, they generally blend in better and are more aesthetically appealing than other solar options. These advantages make BIPV one of the fastest growing segments of the photovoltaic industry.


Building Integrated Photovoltaic modules are available in several forms.

  • Flat roofs
    • The most widely installed to date is a thin film cell integrated to a flexible polymer roofing membrane.
  • Pitched roofs
    • Modules shaped like multiple roof tiles
    • Solar shingles are modules designed to look and act like regular shingles, while incorporating a flexible thin film cell.
  • Facades
    • Modules mounted on exterior faces of buildings can provide additional weatherproofing or simply be used as a style element.

  • Glazing
    • Semitransparent modules can be used to replace a number of architectural elements commonly made with glass or similar materials, such as windows and skylights.


In some countries, additional incentives, or subsisidies, are offered for building integrated photovoltaics compared to stand alone systems. Currently, France offers the highest incentive for BIPV, equal to EUR 0.25/kWh. These incentives are offered in the form of a rate paid for electricity fed to the grid.

  • France + EUR 0.25/kWh
  • Germany + EUR 0.05/kWh (facades only)
  • Italy + EUR 0.04-0.09 kWh
  • USA - Varies by state. Check Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency for more details.

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