Solar Skins – BIPV: An opportunity for greener cities (ETIP PV Report)

6 October 2020

For the development of a thriving BIPV-sector it will be crucial to see the PV-module as a building component technology than rather than a pure PV-module, delivering electricity. In order to exploit the huge economic potential of BIPV and its required close link with local building markets, it will be necessary to (re)organize the value chain, e.g. by enabling flexible ´production on demand´ by the BIPV element producer, in the amount, size, colour etc specified in a specific building project).

Among various renewable energy technologies, solar PV energy generation has seen enormous progress over recent years and today, is one of the lowest-cost energy sources in Europe. PV is a modular energy unit and can be integrated into almost all infrastructure as a construction element, including building roofs and façades, what is commonly known as Building Integrated PV (BIPV). Therefore, it is also a keystone for Nearly Zero Energy Buildings (NZEBs).

BIPV constructions have achieved a high level of technical maturity. There is also ample evidence for impressive design flexibility in numerous model buildings all over the EU. The biggest portion in the value chain of BIPV installations is and will come from within the EU, where the frontrunners in these novel construction technologies are located. An increased share of BIPV in the building stock would contribute significantly to a reduced ecological footprint, would create jobs in the PV construction and installation industries and improve the quality of life and attractiveness of European cities overall.

Distributed energy generation within the premises of a municipality would also reduce requirements for grid extensions and increase resiliance and stability of the power network. Despite its potential, there are several hurdles to overcome if we are to see BIPV as a common part of our cities’ landscapes. These hurdles are mostly related to the low renovation rates and slow integration of on-site renewables in cities, but also with the historical lack of awareness of the benefits of BIPV products. Municipal authorities can actively promote BIPV and embark on an accelerated route towards greener cities:

1. by converting their own building stock into Plus-Energy-Buildings by using BIPV, and therefore, generate best practice examples
2. by promoting new financing schemes for private property owners, such as energy contracting and leasing models for BIPV installations
3. by setting up efficient policies, grid regulations and incentives for a systematic electrification of buildings, heating and cooling, and transport.


ETIP PV, of which Roch Drozdowski-Strehl (Director General of IPVF) is Vice-Chairman, is the recognized interlocutor of the European Commission, Member States and Associated Countries for photovoltaic sector specific R&I needs.

ETIP PV’s mission is in line with the priorities of the Energy Union and the SET-Plan with a focus on “renewable technologies at the heart of the new energy system” and Europe’s drive to become “renewable energy leader”. ETIP PV brings together all relevant actors in the photovoltaic sector, with cooperation agreements with Member States, Associated Countries and Commission services. Its main role is to provide consensual strategic advice on all issues relevant to advancing research and innovation (R&I) efforts.

ETIP PV includes provisions for involving representatives of interested Member States and Associated Countries, as well as working relations with relevant national/regional platforms to ensure synergies between EU, national and regional activities.

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