Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV)

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

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.

Application options

BIPV modules are suitable for integration into roofs and façades. They can be installed in both the transparent and the opaque (e.g. rear-ventilated) parts of the building envelope with little additional effort.

Vertical PV panels
© Fraunhofer ISE
Converting buildings from energy consumers into energy suppliers: Vertical PV louvers are integrated as shading elements into the facade of the town hall in Stühlinger, Freiburg.
Komplett schwarze BIPV-Module
© Fraunhofer ISE
Completely black BIPV modules with invisible PV technology and an anti-glare surface.
Farbiges Solarmodul mit Morpho-Color® Beschichtung
© Fraunhofer ISE
Freedom for architects and building planners: flexible formats, shapes, colors and designs enable diverse and aesthetically pleasing forms of integration.


Together with partners from industry, Fraunhofer ISE has developed the patented MorphoColor® coating, which adds intense color to PV modules. The coating is a photonic 3D structure inspired by the Morpho butterfly and made of dielectric materials. The solar cell technology behind it is invisible. Compared to a conventional black PV module, the power loss is only 7% relative, so the colored modules achieve 93% of the performance of an identical black module. The MorphoColor® glass covers can also be used for colored building-integrated 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. 

Further Information on this Research Topic:


R&D Infrastructure

TestLab Solar Façades

R&D Infrastructure

TestLab PV Modules


Research Project

Construct PV

Electrically Tested BIPV Slates for Facade or Roof


Research Project


Comprehensive Integration of Energetically Active Facade Components into Building Processes


Research Project

BIPV System Design for an Art Nouveau Building in Zurich