New solar solutions for sustainable buildings and cities

Paneldiscussion with (from left to right) Frank Heinlein, Werner Sobek Group, Martin Bornholt, DENEFF e.V., Christine Lemaitre, DGNB, Franz Karg, Avancis/Triumph, Carolien Gehrels, Arcadis, Silke Krawietz, ETIP PV, Oliver Rapf, BPIE. Credit: R. Schlatmann.

At the Interdisciplinary conference on “INNOVATION IN SOLAR BUILDING SKINS & ENERGY EFFICIENCY TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE CITIES”, 19th to 20th march in Berlin, experts from the building sector, politics, finance and photovoltaics have discussed the implementation of Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV). In a very lively and active workshop, drivers and barriers were identified.

“Highly attractive lighthouse-projects demonstrate the feasibility of BIPV solutions, but implementation on a massive scale is still too slow”, states Prof. Rutger Schlatmann, one of the organizers of this conference and Director of HZB-Institute PVcomB. Buildings, facades, and streets offer large surfaces that can be used to produce climate-friendly energy through photovoltaics. At the same time, buildings can also house various kinds of storage media for renewable energy or charging stations for vehicles and thus help stabilize the power grid.

Among the barriers for massive implementation of BIPV are low oil and gas prices, real estate speculation but most importantly slow adaption of legislation, mentioned by Claude Turmes, member of the European Parliament. “Germany fails to comply with EU legislation on Near Zero Emission Buildings”, Turmes warned and stressed the necessity to mitigate climate change. But there are also potential drivers: further sinking costs for PV components, rising corporate social responsibility and the awareness that modern solutions could add more than just energy, e.g. comfort, air quality and design. Thorsten Herdan, director-general energy policy in the German federal ministry of economic affairs and energy, stressed the potential of BIPV solutions, especially when combined with strongly increased energy efficiency in buildings.

Also, the audience contributed valuable remarks, especially in the productive discussions in workshops. Solutions are needed not only for new buildings and big investors but as well for older buildings and for private house owners. Regulations should support the implementation of BIPV solutions on a massive scale.

“This conference was very helpful to identify which innovations are needed for a broader application of BIPV solutions, and this exchange should certainly be continued “, Rutger Schlatmann says

The interdisciplinary conference has been organized by the European SETA network (Sustainability, Energy, Technology, Architecture) and the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB), out of the working group BIPV of the European Technology & Innovation Platform Photovoltaics (ETIP PV). The HZB is one of the leading European research institutions in the field of photovoltaics. SETA Network is active in the fields of innovation strategies for energy efficiency in buildings and cities, in solar building envelopes and in the construction sector.