The Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) project consists in making thin-film solar cells based on Cu(In,Ga)Se2 and/or Cu2ZnSn(S,Se)4 by using commercial ceramic tiles, already used in ventilated facades in near zero energy-impact buildings, as a substrate. The key aspect is the development of easily scalable technologies from the laboratory to industrial production.
In the future, the BIPV economic viability depends on the integration level of the photovoltaic systems in the housing perimeter of a building at a cost of about 40% less than a conventional system installed on the roof or on the ground. Analyzing the current composition of the energy costs produced by a photovoltaic system for home use, it is known that solar cells weigh for about 15%, the module manufacture for 10% and the inverters for 18% in respect to the total cost. The remaining 57% includes the mechanical supports of the modules, the adjustment of the existing electrical system and the costs of design, installation, maintenance and networking of the system. It is evident that the efficiency of modules, from which noticeably depends the amount of energy produced per unit area, has instead a much lower weight in determining the cost of a conventional photovoltaic plant. The savings associated with the PV tile, compared to conventional PV plant are twofold: on one hand the mechanical support of the photovoltaic modules is constituted by an architecture component that should be installed anyway even in the absence of photovoltaics and on the other hand, the laying of the wall covers (ventilated walls in low-impact energy buildings) and the installation of the photovoltaic system is realized by the same operators in a single session. Two of the items that make up to 60% of the cost of a photovoltaic system are significantly reduced.