Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV)

Building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) comprises construction elements that, in addition to generating electricity, provide classic building functions such as thermal insulation, protection against wind and weather, or even architectural functions. Particularly in the facade, BIPV components have features that go well beyond electricity generation. For example, solar modules that are fully integrated into the facade can be used in transparent and non-transparent areas, but also as the cladding of rear-ventilated rainscreens. Individually colored and surface-textured BIPV modules can be used very well as architectural design elements for buildings or entire city districts.

When evaluated over their complete life cycle, many active BIPV modules perform better economically and ecologically than conventional building elements. They help to meet energy-related building regulations and make an important contribution to the energy transition. The technical potential of PV on buildings in Germany is around 1000 GWp. An important R&D goal of Fraunhofer ISE is to further optimize the cost-effectiveness of the modules - while meeting visual and architectural design criteria - in order to significantly improve the CO2 balance of buildings and thus reduce the energy balance to zero ("net zero energy building") or even make it positive ("plus energy building").

Solar-active building elements are becoming increasingly interesting for innovative architects, engineers, producers, investors and urban planners. Fraunhofer ISE offers industrial partners a broad range of research and services for the characterization, development and practical application of building-integrated photovoltaics.

© Fraunhofer ISE / Benedikt Bläsi
The Center for Highly Efficient Solar Cells at Fraunhofer ISE in Freiburg, Germany, with MorphoColor® modules (green color stripes) inserted into a curtain-type, rear-ventilated facade.


Together with partners from industry, Fraunhofer ISE has developed the patented MorphoColor® interface, which gives photovoltaic modules an intense color. At the same time, the modules retain at least 90 percent of their efficiency. In this way, building-integrated photovoltaic systems can set colorful accents in the facade architecture or - for example, integrated into the roof in brick red - visually disappear into the building envelope.
The MorphoColor® interface is a photonic structure in which an interference layer is combined with a geometrically structured substrate in such a way that a particularly narrow-band reflection maximum results. Since only small parts of the light spectrum are reflected in this way, the remaining sunlight can pass through undisturbed. The efficiency of the module is only reduced by significantly less than 10 percent relative, compared to an uncoated module. The module design is inspired by the Morpho butterfly, whose intense blue wings create an angularly stable color impression over a wide range. A wide range of colors can be realized using this technology, and the underlying solar cells are no longer visible. The MorphoColor® glasses can also be used for building-integrated colored solar thermal collectors or PVT collectors.

Our R&D services include:

Building-integrated photovoltaics is part of the larger research field, "Integrated Photovoltaics", which is a special research and development focus at Fraunhofer ISE. 

Pilotinstallation von MorphoColor® Farbschichten
© Fraunhofer ISE/Foto: Dirk Mahler
Pilot installation of MorphoColor® paint coatings on the BIPV demonstration stele in front of the main building of Fraunhofer ISE in Freiburg.

Further Information on this Research Topic:


R&D Infrastructure

TestLab Solar Façades

R&D Infrastructure

TestLab PV Modules


Research Project


Concepts for Architecturally Adapted Collectors for Existing and New Buildings


Research Project

Practical Guide for Building-integrated Photovoltaics


Research Project

Thermal breakage

Drafting a Standard for Determining the Thermal Stress of Glass and Glass-Glass PV Modules (BIPV) in the Construction Industry

Download Flyer: Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV)

  • Solar Roofing Modules Replace Roof Tiles


    According to a study by Fraunhofer ISE, photovoltaic systems on Germany’s roofs have a technical potential of approx. 560 GWp. So far, rooftop systems have mostly been installed on house roofs. However, with a widespread expansion of rooftop solar installations, there is a risk that the public’s acceptance of photovoltaic systems could decline. One solution is to use integrated solar modules instead of roofing tiles, which are visually hardly distinguishable from conventional roofing tiles and produce solar power at the same time.

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