Built in PV – it’s pretty cool.

I think a pretty cool subject is the BIPV systems, short for Built in PV.  When it comes to installing a new roof or building a structure from scratch we have the opportunity to integrate the array into the building itself.

One great company that has been doing this successfully for over a decade is Uni-Solar.  They make a thin film(amorphous) module which is 15.5” wide and comes off the assembly line in one mile long sheets.  Being constructed of amorphous silicon instead of the more main-stream crystalline modules, has a number of differences.  First amorphous modules are flexible, the modules actually come in a roll.  Because the individual cells are long and narrow they are more tolerant to shading.  Amorphous products are roughly half as efficient per square area as crystalline.  Yet if applicable roof area is abundant, this is not an issue as the cost per watt of generating capacity is similar to crystalline.

The modules are built to be laminated to metal roofing panels that are roughly 16” in width. The “pan” of the standing seem type roofing must not have any corrugations in the pan, but a smooth flat surface.

SIDE NOTE:  Besides having a cool product the company’s founder Stanford Ovshinsky is one hell of a guy.  He personally holds hundreds of patents.  He never sold out to the big petroleum companies when most of his contemporaries had and developed the battery for GM’s Chevy Volt electric car which was later murdered by GM.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_R._Ovshinsky.

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