BIPV (Building Integrated Photo-Voltaics) have come a long way from its early days. Initially only flat panels were available that would be placed over the facade of a building. The panels did not make the fabric of the building but acted more as an overlay to an existing structure. 10 years on in 2017, solar panels are not only available in wide variety of shapes but also in a variety of structural strengths. The can now be made flexible. They can be painted on walls. They can be made of high strength plastic or metal. They can even be made transparent. This allows them to double up both as windows and electricity generator.
More recently Tesla have come up with their own version of solar tile. According to Tesla, this tile has the same price as your normal roof tile. As PV prices have dropped, there are more Solar PV systems appearing on the roofs. In certain countries, it is a law to have some portion of energy through renewables. France for instance, decrees that new rooftops on building in commercial zones must be covered in plants or solar panels.
Making use of the new building material, many Solar buildings have started emerging around the world that use Photovoltaic Modules in their building fabric. Some of them are listed below:
Solar Ark, Japan
The Solar Ark in Japan is an Ark shaped building that is covered with solar panels. The building was established in April 2002. It has a peak capacity of 630 kilowatts. More than 5000 panels on its structure produce more than 530,000 kWh per annum.
CIS Tower, UK
The CIS Tower in Manchester is a famous landmark. The renovation on it was completed in 2006 which included 575.5 kW of Solar panels on its facade. These panels generate an yearly 180,000 kWh of electricity.
National Stadium (Kaohsiung), Taiwan
This stadium has a capacity of 55,000 and its roof is covered by 8,844 solar panels. It generates a whopping 1.14 gigawatt hours of electricity every year.
There are other iconic buildings too that have made use of solar panels. For example Riyuetan-Weipai (Sun Dial) Building, in east China. Heliotrope in Freiburg (6.6 kW capacity) and MNACTEC Terrassa, Spain (39.7 kWp) .
Also notable mentions are the Apples Flying Saucer building and Tesla’s Giga factory. Once they are completed, they will be the biggest PV integrated buildings in the world.
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