Building-integrated fibre-reinforced solar technology

Project title
Building-integrated fibre-reinforced solar technology
Project Coordinator
Start date
Expected Completion
Photovoltaics (PV) has experimented an exponential increase in the last 10 years and this trend is expected to continue with the support of feed-in-tariff policies in some countries and the on-going production costs reduction. The situation for building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) is, however, radically different from that of general PV industry. Despite the impressive figures for the photovoltaic market, current deployment for BIPV applications has still a large room for improvement. New products must be developed in order to overcome technical and non-technical barriers for BIPV at a European scale. A higher degree of standardization is needed in order to facilitate the labour of architects and engineers. A complete characterisation of the products, at laboratory, experimental building and real building scale and the development of extensive product catalogues with exhaustive product performance description are essential in order to encourage the incorporation of BIPV products into construction works. Finally, carefully planned dissemination strategies are important to contribute to a wider knowledge of the technology and its possibilities by all the parties involved in BIPV. The aim of BFIRST project is the development and demonstration of a set of standardised, multifunctional photovoltaic building components based on a recently developed technology for solar cells encapsulation within glass fibre-reinforced composite materials. By means of this new technology, cell encapsulation within composite materials takes place in a single step, yielding a self-supporting, monolithic and lightweight photovoltaic module. Curved and complex geometries can be obtained, opening a wide range of new BIPV products with enhanced building integration possibilities. Moreover, by using a composite material, in which the cells and their connections are completely embedded, the need to use additional materials as a base or covering is eliminated. Protective coating materials can also be added, either onto the mould during the manufacturing process, or afterwards, once the component has been released from the tool. The resulting PV modules present advanced characteristics in terms of structural capacity, transparency, adaptability to non-planar geometries, protection, weight and reduction of stages in the manufacturing process, as well as issues concerning transport, manipulation, assembly and safety and security.