February 12, 2014

BIPV at the 28th EU PVSEC

I often find it easy to get lost in my little corner of the solar research world and focus exclusively on my own work. Readings get limited to those directly related to my research. Indeed, as someone who focuses primarily on cell-level technology, it’s easy for me to lose the bigger picture of how such a technology might be used. Hence, one of the advantages of going to a conference is the breadth of material covered, and its accessibility. This allows me to “take a quick peek” at some ideas that I wouldn’t normally consider “directly important to my research”. At the IEEE conference in Florida, I went to many talks regarding new cell concepts (see my blog post on “Photon Up- and Down-Conversion”). In Paris, at EU PVSEC 2013, I spent some time checking stuff on building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV). Different groups seem to have different opinions on what constitutes BIPV. Some people seemed to interpret BIPV to mean any more
April 18, 2013

CanSIA 2012-Integrating Solar Thermal with Geothermal

Thanks to the Photovoltaic Innovation Network, I participated in Solar Canada 2012 in Toronto, Ontario. This conference/exhibition is the largest national solar event in Canada, and is hosted by the Canadian Solar Industry Association (CanSIA). This year the event was quite large, in part due to the fact that it was CanSIA’s 20th anniversary. In this conference, I participated in some talks and visited some booths; one of the talks that was really interesting to me was about Solar thermal, Geo-thermal and the opportunity to integrate these two technologies together. Solar thermal installations consist of a solar thermal collector on the roof, a control unit with a pump and a potable water storage tank. The collector absorbs the light from the sun and converts it into heat. This heat is transferred to a liquid which circulates through the collector and down into the solar storage tank (fig-1). There are a lot of solar thermal projects within Canada (as they can more
November 26, 2012

Building Integrated Photovoltaics: The future is bright

Two years ago, the global market for solar energy saw an exponential growth. This was mainly due to national supportive policies and the increased instability of fossil fuel prices. We are approaching the end of 2012 and the price of silicon modules has dropped rapidly, leaving little to no profit margins for upstream solar companies and driving many to bankruptcy. Simultaneously, governments are reducing subsidies due to the latest financial crisis while natural gas prices are dropping1. It seems that the solar industry is in a difficult period. Nonetheless, according to a recent report from consultants McKinsey & Co 2 “…these are natural growing pains, not death throes. The industry is entering a period of maturation that is likely to set the conditions for more stable and expansive growth after 2015”. Despite the market vibrations, PV prices are expected to continue dropping (Figure 1) while sales would rise, increasing significantly the PV capacity installed (Figure 2), which is estimated to more
Blog |BIPV
November 7, 2012

Building-integrated Photovoltaics (BiPV): The future of PV?

I recently returned from the 27th European Photovoltaics Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition (EU PVSEC) held in Frankfurt, Germany.  While my days were packed with fascinating presentations and discussions with colleagues on PV related topics such as cell design, novel materials, fabrication methods, and economic considerations, the topic which had perhaps the most lasting impression on me was Building-integrated Photovoltaics (BiPV).   Now, I should clarify that BiPV is not simply just slapping on a solar panel on the roof of your house, it is integrating the PV panel as a functional component of the building envelope such as a roofing material or a semitransparent window.  The case for BiPV is easy to make.  We can reduce the balance of system (BOS) cost of the PV system by having the photovoltaic panels also function as a building material.  For example the PV could function as both a photovoltaic power source and a roofing shingle (see Fig. 1). Figure 1: DOW POWERHOUSETM solar more
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