Building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) is a growing area within the booming renewable energy industry. Research from NanoMarkets forecasts that the BIPV market is projected to surpass $11 billion by 2016.  Growing from 343 megawatts installed to 3.6 gigawatts installed by 2016.  That’s 3.6 billion watts!  According to an National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) technical report on BIPV, many stakeholders describe BIPV as a multifunctional product—one that acts as both a building material and a device that generates electricity (e.g., a solar shingle).

Most of the residential solar installations are Building Applied Photovoltaics (BAPV), meaning that the solar is a retrofit, added to the roof  after the structure is completed.  BIPV systems replace building elements instead of being applied over other elements.  In this case, we are speaking of carport arrays, and awnings designed to shade building structures.

PPC Solar has been leading the way in Northern New Mexico when it comes to BIPV.  Most people are familiar with the commercial scale covered parking structures that we have installed in Taos and various other locations in New Mexico.   We have also installed residential BIPV systems where the solar panels are awnings, acting as passive solar thermal coolers during hot summer months.  A second generation of BIPV products are soon to be on the market.  Architectural glass, Spanish roofing tiles, and flexible panels are already available and are expected to improve in efficiency in the years to come.  This featured image is our latest BIPV installation on our new headquarters building.

Exterior of PPC Solar

The New Headquarters of PPC Solar

What are the benefits, you ask?

1.)  Power production at the site of consumption eliminates power lost (due to transmission)

2.)  Using PV as shading can reduce air conditioning loads

3.)  Semitransparent arrays of spaced crystalline cells can offer diffused natural lighting

BIPV products are building materials that generate electricity, can produce shade and diffused lighting, and also be a visually pleasing architectural design element.  As for us here at PPC, we are excited to see what the future brings as this part of the PV industry grows and evolves.

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