A dramatic rise in the implementation of renewable energy sources is needed if we want to meet European climate protection targets. Photovoltaic (PV) costs have decreased spectacularly over time, turning it into one of the most competitive sources of electricity in the EU. An economically feasible and space-saving way to increase the capacity of renewable energy sources is to integrate PV systems on structures that already exist or to build new structures that originally integrate a PV function.
Building- and infrastructure-integrated PV are technologically proven solutions. However, integrated PV (IPV) is still a niche market. Several barriers are still preventing the massive integration of PV into buildings and infrastructure.
The project MASS-IPV has been conceived as a multidisciplinary action that connects key players along PV and construction value chain. The goal of the project is to demonstrate that suitable tools, technologies, and methods, combined with a collaboration framework among key stakeholders, can overcome the barriers preventing the mass-deployment of IPV and deliver multifunctional and cost-effective IPV systems for building and infrastructures. The demonstration will be carried out through six different built objects, which encompass different construction typologies in five different locations in Europe.
The Climate Target Plan 2030 demands a cut in net greenhouse gas emissions in the EU by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990, with the ultimate goal to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. Renovating both public and private buildings is an essential element of this plan , particularly laid out in the “renovation wave” strategy . Buildings’ energy-efficiency must be increased significantly, and decarbonisation, circularity and sustainability must be pushed forward over the full lifecycle of buildings while at the same time ensuring affordability and aesthetics. In this, solar energy, and in particular Photovoltaics (PV), plays a major role. PV costs have decreased spectacularly over time (82% over the last decade), turning it into one of the most cost-effective renewable energy sources in the EU. This is recognized by the REPowerEU Plan and EU Solar Energy Strategy, which sets the goal of bringing “online over 320 GW of PV by 2025 (more than doubling compared to 2020) and almost 600 GW by 2030” . The combination of solar energy installations and renovation interventions optimises buildings’ energy performance and provides massive yet untapped potential.
An economically feasible and space-saving way to increase the capacity of renewable energy sources is to integrate PV systems into structures that already exist or to build new structures that originally integrate a PV function. Integrated PV (IPV) can blend into the outer surface of buildings and infrastructure, such that the solar cells are no longer visible from outside. IPV can also be applied to building surfaces jointly with vegetation for climate adaptation. The integration of PV into roofs, façades and infrastructure allows aesthetically appealing power systems and is an essential cornerstone for the energy transformation.
Building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) refers to building components which fulfil classic functions of a building envelope such as thermal insulation, protection against wind and rain, solar shading, and aesthetics, in addition to generating electricity. Due to this multifunctionality, these active building components can achieve a better economic and ecological balance over their lifetime than conventional building elements .
Likewise, infrastructure-integrated PV encompasses the incorporation of solar modules into and near urban areas reserved, for example, for transportation. PV can be directly integrated into the surfaces of footpaths or public squares, but also noise barriers, highway verges and parking lot roofing. Infrastructure-integrated PV offers a large potential for PV integration, due to the unique advantages of somewhat standardized constructions, and a small number of builders and owners compared to the building sector.
However, IPV is still a niche market, contributing only 7 GW installed capacity to the 680 GW installed PV capacity in Europe in 2020 . Several barriers are still preventing the massive integration of PV into buildings and infrastructure.
And this is where the MASS-IPV project takes effect, making a fundamental contribution to capitalize the potential of IPV across Europe.
The overall objective of MASS-IPV is to provide a complementary and flexible modular set of innovative business and collaboration strategies, methods, tools, and technologies to overcome the barriers preventing the mass deployment of IPV and deliver multifunctional and cost-effective IPV systems for buildings and infrastructure in Europe.
The demonstration will be carried out through five IPV construction projects, which encompass different challenges and construction typologies (industrial, residential, office and historic buildings, as well as a noise barrier) in four different locations in Europe.
To mirror the variety of involved actors and ensure realistic perspectives, MASS-IPV is a multidisciplinary action that connects key players along the IPV and construction value chains. The consortium includes 16 partners, 3 associated partners and one affiliated entity from renowned research institutions, software developers, building planners, as well as manufacturers of innovative PV modules, façade cladding technologies and PV mounting systems. The industrial participation in the project is very high. 12 European companies, 7 of which are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), are partners in the project. Overall, 8 European countries are represented in the consortium.
The highly demanding complexity of addressed problems (financial, regulatory, societal, environmental, and technical barriers for IPV, as described in the state-of-the-art part) is also reflected in the specific objectives of this project. Only a multidimensional and modular set of innovations can address the call topic and the EU climate target initiatives described above.