Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) is the integration of photovoltaics (PV) into the building envelope. The PV modules serve the dual function of building skin—replacing conventional building envelope materials—and power generator. By avoiding the cost of conventional materials, the incremental cost of photovoltaics is reduced and its life-cycle cost is improved. That is, BIPV systems often have lower overall costs than PV systems requiring separate, dedicated, mounting systems.
IPV systems can either be interfaced with the available utility grid or they may be designed as stand-alone, off-grid systems. The benefits of power production at the point of use include savings to the utility in the losses associated with transmission and distribution (known as ‘grid support’), and savings to the consumer through lower electric bills because of peak shaving (matching peak production with periods of peak demand). Moreover, buildings that produce power using renewable energy sources reduce the demands on traditional utility generators, often reducing the overall emissions of climate-change gasses.
Facades can be installed on existing buildings, giving old buildings a whole new look. These modules are mounted on the facade of the building, over the existing structure, which can increase the appeal of the building and its resale value.