To date, none of the predictions that have been made about the emerging BIPV industry have really hit the target. The anticipated boom has so far stalled and despite developing and promoting a number of excellent systems and products, many producers around the world have been forced to quit on purely economic grounds. The authors believe that after this painful cleansing of the market, a massive counter trend will follow, enlivened and carried forward by more advanced PV technologies and ever-stricter climate policies designed to achieve energy neutrality in a cost-effective way. As a result, the need for BIPV products for use in construction will undergo first a gradual and then a massive increase. The planning of buildings with multifunctional, integrated roof and façade elements capable of fulfilling the technical and legal demands will become an essential, accepted part of the architectonic mainstream and will also contribute to an aesthetic valorisation. Until then, various barriers need to be overcome in order to facilitate and accelerate BIPV. Besides issues related to mere cost-efficiency ratio, psychological and social factors also play an evident role. The goal of energy change linked to greater use of renewables can be successfully achieved only when all aspects are taken into account and when visual appeal and energy efficiency thus no longer appear to be an oxymoron.
About the authors
Patrick Heinstein is the head of BIPV Design at the Institute of Microengineering (IMT) in Neuchâtel (Switzerland) which belongs to the renowned Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, EPFL). He obtained a degree as an Industrial Designer at the University of Applied Sciences in Darmstadt and studied History of Arts and Philosophy at Heidelberg and Bochum Universities. In over 20 years he has gained expertise in the international design business and is the author of numerous publications on the history and culture of visual perception, history of sciences and aesthetics. His PhD Thesis at the Bauhaus University in Weimar is about aspects of the distribution of knowledge at the beginning of industrialization. His profound practical and theoretical background allows him to play an important role as a frequently consulted expert at the sensitive interface between R&D activities, architects and the building industry, where issues of how to successfully bring the latest PV developments ‘from lab to fab’ are crucial.
Prof. Christophe Ballif, is director of the Phototovoltaics Laboratory at the IMT Neuchâtel, part of the EPFL (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) since 2009. Since 2013 he is also heading the new PV-center at the CSEM (Swiss center for electronics and microtechnology). His interests are in high efficiency silicon crystalline cells, in thin-film solar cells, module technology, and in system and building integration aspects. After his Phd, he also worked at NREL and Fraunhofer ISE.
Laure-Emmanuelle Perret-Aebi obtained her M.Sc. at the University of Neuchâtel (Switzerland) and her Ph.D. degree in Chemistry at the University of Fribourg (Switzerland) in 2004. After 4 years of postdoc at the University of Edinburgh (Scotland) and Neuchâtel (Switzerland), she joined in 2009 the Photovoltaic and Thin Film Electronics Laboratory (PVLAB) at the Institute of Microengineering (IMT) of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Neuchâtel as a group leader of the PV modules back-end activities. She is now section head of the “Module Design and System Integration” sector at the CSEM PV-center in Neuchâtel, Switzerland (swiss center for electronics and microtechnology). Her main research activities are focused on the development of innovative and highly reliable photovoltaic modules and systems for various applications such as building, mobility and land power plants.
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