Building-Integrated Photovoltaics


Building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) refers to building components which fulfil classic functions such as thermal insulation, protection against wind and weather or also architectural functions, in addition to generating electricity. Due to their multifunctionality, these active building components can achieve a better economic and ecological balance over their lifetime than conventional building elements. For building owners, they also provide the opportunity to comply with increasingly stringent energy-related guidelines. Architecturally integrated PV modules in roofs and façades allow aesthetically appealing power systems to blend into the urban or rural landscape and make a significant contribution to the energy transformation. Local manufacture situated near the final user is advantageous for customized BIPV elements.

Quick-Facts: Building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV)

  • Technical potential in Germany of at least 1.4 TWp
  • Advantages:
    • BIPV is an important component to reduce CO2 emissions in buildings (zero-energy/plus-energy)
    • in many already glazed surfaces, PV can be integrated with little additional effort
  • Challenges:
    • greater planning effort due to interfaces between trades and different technical regulations
    • higher costs due to small production series, often with a low degree of automation, and lack of standardization
    • the product spectrum must be extended with functionally and aesthetically optimized products

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

An energy consumer becomes an energy supplier: Vertical PV panels are integrated as solar-shading devices into the façade of the City Administration Centre in Freiburg, Germany.

Colour-matched, roof-integrated photovoltaics

Colour-matched, roof-integrated photovoltaics on a historic farmhouse in Ecuvillens, Switzerland.

Colored-BIPV modules
© Fraunhofer ISE

Freedom for architects and building planners: Diverse and aesthetically attractive integration is possible due to flexible formats, shapes, colours and component forms.

Our R&D services

We optimize building-envelope components, produce BIPV prototypes and analyse the annual yield of BIPV systems and life-cycle costs. We find cost-effective solutions for opaque walls, analyse building processes and optimize them. We developed the PVShade® semi-transparent BIPV glazing product, which generates electricity, allows the surroundings to be viewed and provides solar shading.