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Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) Gaining Ground - On The Roof Or Window Pane!

The world of solar PV is constantly developing. At AbleSkills, the commitment is always to meet the rising demand for a highly skilled and qualified 'renewables' workforce. Candidates enrolling at AbleSkills Renewable Energy Centre are offered comprehensive training to gain full qualification verification up to levels 2 and 3 on approved and accredited City & Guilds, BPEC, NICEIC renewable energy courses, which include solar PV courses, solar courses (thermal) and ground source heat pump courses.Solar photovoltaic systems are proving to be a popular choice of 'renewables' to be installed on UK rooftops! More and more householders, small businesses and other organisations recognise both the financial rewards and CO2 reducing benefits of FiTs and the newly launched RHI schemes. To date, the UK has now installed over 80MW of solar power or in excess of 29,000 installations.One of the key developments in solar installation is the increasing direction being taken towards the integration of solar panels within the fabric of the building itself, rather than as a bolted-on framework. As more solar PV manufacturers enter the marketplace, there has been a trend towards finding different ways to combine solar technology with conventional building surfaces, from roof tiles to window panes.The commonly-used term for this approach is Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV).However, there are two distinct ways in which solar panel integration can be applied. The first method is to manufacture traditional building products combined with photovoltaics technology - as with window glass, which replaces the conventional glass pane in the window frame.The second type of integrated system is Building Applied Photovoltaics (BAPV).In this method, a solar module is applied directly onto the surface of a conventional building product material with an adhesive or other method of attachment across the entire field. The solar element can be adhered to newly installed host building materials or retro fitted onto existing building materials, for example, to new or existing metal roof panels or a single-ply roof membrane in the field.Both conventional crystalline and thin-film photovoltaic materials can be used in both BIPV and BAPV systems, although the crystalline panel installed with conventional frame/rack mounted systems continues to be the most favoured method as it is less expensive than most thin-film PV systems.The price of crystalline PV modules is continuing to fall in price due to rising demand and increasing capacity, and conventional building manufacturers will take time to adapt to new technologies. As both the building industry and the solar PV industry work ever more closely in response to consumer demand, the likelihood is that BIPV will be the solar panel system installed but not seen everywhere in the future!