Integrating solar panels into facades and roofs can provide signficant amounts of energy and the Be-Smart project partners will design multifunctional solar panels that not only produce energy but also do the job of other building materials with insulating, soundproofing or aesthetic qualities. The project partners will also develop a methodology for architects and construction companies and find ways to drastically reduce the costs of BIPV.
Fifteen research institutes, innovative companies, and architecture and construction firms have teamed up for the Horizon 2020 project. "The use of BIPV in facades and in the construction sector more broadly is expanding rapidly, thanks in part to the pioneering technology developed by EPFL and CSEM," said Laure-Emmanuelle Perret-Aebi, coordinator of the project at EPFL's Photovoltaics and Thin Film Electronics Laboratory (PV-Lab). "But we need to make this technology more accessible so that it can be used more extensively and not just in flagship building projects. The technology is different from that used in solar panels, which are designed for mass production and now manufactured primarily in China, but BIPV technology stands to boost European industry."
In Switzerland, more than 10,000 roofs have already been built in this way, with photovoltaic panels available in various shapes and colours, but uptake has been slow. The photovoltaic technology used for this project is based on crystalline silicon rather than film film organic or perovskite technologies, as the panels need to have a guaranteed lifespan of 30 to 50 years and reliability is one of the project goals.
The project includes AIT Austrian Institute of Technology in Austria, Association Compaz in Switzerland, CEA in France and CSEM, Solaxess and Immoroc in Switzerland as well as Issol in Belgium, the Institutt for energiteknikk and Oslo kommune in Norway and White Arkitekter Aktiebolag in Sweden. They are joined by L-UP in France, Padanaplast in Italy, Saint-Gobain Sekurit in Germay and Sustainable innovations europe in Spain.