The US government has supported this effort through the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC). Since implementing the program in 2006, ITC Solar has helped residential and commercial solar power generate 10,000% growth in the US solar industry, with an average annual growth rate of 50% over the past decade alone. ITC currently offers a 26% tax credit for solar energy systems on commercial property and can be applied to a customer’s commercial solar systems. The ITC credit can be applied to the total investment in both power glass panels and electrical components.
Like sustainability, design expectations for commercial buildings are also at an all-time high. In glass specifications, current buildings can demand any combination of solar control performance, absolute transparency, tinted aesthetics and color treatments.
Manufacturers such as Vitro Architectural Glass have responded with integrated building modular glass (BIPV) products such as Solar Volt™ BIPV.
Where are BIPV units used?
Integrated Glass Modules Photovoltaic (BIPV) has emerged as a solution to meet these challenges – CO2– A free energy generation and design tool – while simultaneously replacing traditional building envelope materials, such as wall or roof cladding. In fact, BIPV glass can be used to enhance almost any exterior element: balustrades and balconies, skylights, roof elements, garage and more.
Most notably, BIPV glass units such as Solar VoltBIPV™ can perform the functions of classic glass facades, visible glass, and spandrel glass. In these applications, the solar module replaces traditional building panels and serves as an external protection for the facade from the weather. Custom designed solar modules comply with all design requirements for glazing and can be installed with most conventional glazing systems. For structural glazing, units using tempered glass can be combined with interior window strips in building envelopes and adjoining rooftops to heated rooms.
BIPV can also be used for shading elements, not only to capture sunlight for energy generation, but also to protect against sun and glare. BIPV overhead glazing, canopy structures, and skylights can use “solar coating,” a term often used to refer to the interaction of light and shade caused by the spacing between individual solar cells. In addition to power generation, BIPV glass balustrades and balconies can accentuate the architectural character of buildings and their surroundings while at the same time meeting requirements for safety or accident-resistant glass.
New design capabilities
A BIPV module typically consists of solar cells encapsulated between two glasses – they can consist of almost any glass product and with any high-performance, low-emission (low-e) coating to provide another measure of environmental performance.
This means that BIPV can achieve a range of design goals. Designers can realize dynamic and colorful concepts by using the BIPV spandrel rear glass. Blue, green, gray and bronze tinted glasses can also help achieve vibrant designs. For absolute transparency and maximum performance of the solar cells, low iron glass with high visible light transmittance (VLT) can also be used. fact, Solar VoltBIPV™ units are compatible with every Vitro Glass product and substrate, including their historic products Solarban® family of low paints and Starfire Ultra-Clear® glass.
BIPV solar cells themselves can be arranged in alternating rows, patterns, and other configurations. Polycrystalline silicon photovoltaic (PV) technologies can also affect the appearance and performance of solar cells in power generation. While monocrystalline PV gives a black appearance on the solar cells with maximum power generation performance, polycrystalline PV provides a stunning blue appearance with slightly reduced performance. For an embossed appearance and higher transmission of visible light while retaining some of the power generation benefits of mono-crystalline photovoltaics, mono-crystalline strips are also available.
For decades, glass has been viewed as one of the most versatile, beautiful and sustainable building materials in the world. Now, glass is more than just an idea generator – it’s an energy generator. Today, glass can collect clean energy, doubling the powerful benefits of the product.
Learn more about Solar VoltBIPV™ glass units, visit www.vitrosolarvolt.com.