Game-Changing BIPV Glass Building Skin Technology Gets First Demo Project in the Netherlands

EINDHOVEN, THE NETHERLANDS – The first demonstration of a game-changing building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) module technology for sloped roofs and cladding has been installed at the Solar Energy Application Centre (SEAC) research facility, Solar Beat located at the Eindhoven University of Technology (here). Completed in February, the 30-square-meter project consists of 30 small and large modules capable of 4.5-kW peak energy generation as well as 1.9-square meters of "dummy" panels to measure a variety of parameters. The demonstration project is both a real-world showcase allowing the building and solar industries to see the technology in operation, as well as a "laboratory" to run ongoing performance tests.
TULiPPS B.V. (parent of TULiPPS Solar B.V.), in cooperation with members of the SUMMIT and LiRoB consortia, has spent more than five years developing patent-pending frameless module technologies that enable the utilization of beautiful building skins that are cost-competitive with other roofing and cladding materials. The glass skins also offer the option of PV functionality to create energy-neutral buildings. The new PV module design provides superb aesthetics, high power output, the lowest installation and systems costs, and the lowest carbon footprint on the market today.


Both the SUMMIT and LiRoB teams have been working to eliminate long-standing issues with conventional PV modules, which are heavy, unattractive, costly, and offered in a limited number of sizes, which can make it difficult to fit in odd-size locations on typical roofs and building walls. An important goal of the consortium has been to fix these and other issues by developing a lighter, longer lasting, more resilient, energy-efficient, and lower cost PV module platform that can be used as BIPV for sloped roofs and as building cladding, as well as for large modules on flat roofs.

One of the defining differences between conventional PV modules and patent-pending COSMOS® module systems is the latter's dimension adaptability. Patented design, construction, and mounting technologies are combined with very-thin-(2mm) toughened glass-faced PV laminate (which is lighter and provides higher energy transmission) plus hybrid thermoplastic composites (which are light, strong, durable, cost effective, and fully recyclable). Together, these high-tech materials make it possible to produce higher performance, longer lasting modules cost effectively in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. This, in turn, enables far more surface area of a building's roof and walls to be covered with a glass skin and/or energy-generating PV modules ― both of which fit neatly into one COSMOS system and have very-similar appearance. Additional use of smart-module power management by Femtogrid Energy Solutions B.V. provides higher energy generation that is less prone to power drop-off even under non-ideal (shaded) conditions.

Since energy-neutral buildings (in the form of decreasing energy-performance coefficients (EPCs)) are already the law in many parts of Europe , architects face a dilemma. "Every new building that is designed in The Netherlands and every building-renovation project is going to require solar" explains Paul Stassen, consortia leader and TULiPPS B.V. founder and CEO. "Thermal-insulation practices alone aren't enough to get you to the required EPC level. And this level will only get tougher in coming years. To comply with the mandate, you will need to generate most or all of a building's energy needs on site. Then the challenge becomes how to install the right amount of PV modules efficiently and cost-effectively without destroying building aesthetics or driving up costs unnecessarily."

The new COSMOS glass-building skin is a dramatically different solution for meeting these previously conflicting needs. On the one hand it provides a cost-effective system for achieving a durable water-tight building skin with good aesthetics (owing to frameless modules with invisible mounting systems), rapid installation (via click-&-go/repair-&-replace functionality without need for screws, bolts, or tools during module mounting), lower weight (for easier installation that requires less building modification to structurally support the system), and dimensional versatility (to fit a larger percentage of buildings walls and roofs without gaps). On the other hand, modular glass skins can be removed and replaced with PV modules that are designed to fit the system, thereby dramatically improving the building's energy profile. Either way, a very cost-effective tailor-made cladding or roofing solution is provided that decouples the cost of PV cells from the cost of the entire PV module.

"My vision as we look out 10, 20, or 30 years in the future," adds Stassen, "is that glass will replace other materials and come to hold a dominant position in building skins. This is because it's so cost-effective and durable, and it's the only good option for integration of solar cells. You can't realistically glue PV cells to concrete or steel or bitumen (asphalt). Either it won't be safe or it won't last. If you are in a situation where you have a legal obligation to make a more energy-efficient building, and you have to generate energy on the building, then the only high-quality, cost-effective option is glass. And once you pay for the COSMOS glass skin, adding PV becomes a 'no-brainer.'"

The pilot system consists of modules containing both H-pattern cells and back-contact cells. Non-functional "dummy" cells installed on the top row above the H-pattern cells are being used to measure wind loads (wind-induced pressures). Other parameters being evaluated include real-time temperature on the back side of each individual module in the array, as well as in a variety of air gaps of differing sizes between modules and the roof. Additionally, researchers are monitoring pressure equalization above and below the modules and power output for every module. The latter will help compare the performance of more conventional modules with H-pattern cells vs. newer and more efficient modules containing back-contact cells as a function of weather.

"We're very excited to have our first real-world demonstration project up and running," adds Stassen. "Everything went together just as designed, and the system is operating very well. This latest generation of modules includes every special feature our consortia have developed and that we could pack in, so the system really represents the best of the best." Those unable to make it to Eindhoven can view a similar system (including both pitched roof and cladding) that will be on display in Booth A3.277 at the Intersolar Europe exhibition and conference in Munich, Germany from June 10-12, 2015.

Key members of the SUMMIT consortium project include:
• Eurotron B.V.
• Femtogrid Energy Solutions B.V.
• Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology (Fraunhofer ICT)
• IBC-Solar B.V.
• Kiwa Italy S.p.A.
• Rimas Technology Group B.V.
• Uniresearch B.V.
• Yparex B.V.

Key members of the Lightweight Rooftop BIPV (LiRoB) consortium project include:
• Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN)
• Kiwa BDA Testing B.V. and BDA Dak- en Geveladvies B.V.
• KIWA Nederland B.V.
• Oskomera Solar Power Solutions
• Resin (Products & Technology) B.V.
• SABIC Petrochemicals B.V.
• SCX-Solar
• Solar Energy Application Centre - Eindhoven
• SolNed B.V.
• Yparex B.V.

And the following third-party suppliers also played an important role by providing materials and/or support:

• Chematronics B.V.- Eindhoven
• Easicomp GmbH
• Eppstein Foils GmbH
• Henkel AG & Company, KGaA
• Interfloat Corp.
• Qolortech B.V.
• Rockwool Group

This development from the SUMMIT consortium has received funding under the European Union Seventh Framework Programme FP7/2007-2013 under grant agreement number 322425.

The LiRoB consortium is one of the projects under the Dutch national Topsector policy for Knowledge & Innovation (TKI): Topsector Energy, Section Solar Energy and is sponsored by the Dutch government.

For more information, see: and or eMail: Dit e-mailadres wordt beveiligd tegen spambots. JavaScript dient ingeschakeld te zijn om het te bekijken., or call: +31 (0) 40.7516.290, or send mail to: TULiPPS B.V., High Tech Campus 9, 5656 AE Eindhoven, The Netherlands, or follow TULiPPS Solar on Facebook*.

®TULiPPS and COSMOS are trademarks of TULiPPS Solar International B.V.

* All other trademarks are the property of their owners.