Owner: Georgetown University
Funding: U.S. Department of Energy
PV Array: 337 kWp, 4,464 Solarex modules
Installer: Hughes Aircraft
Mounting: Roof integrated, using Kawneer framing system
Funded by the United States Department of Energy to demonstrate the viability of large-scale building-integrated PV systems for commercial and institutional facilities the BIPV system that is part of the Intercultural Center at Georgetown University in Washington, DC provides up to 50% of the building’s electrical needs, with the rest supplied by the utility. It interfaces with the campus grid, which also has contributions from other distributed power systems on campus.
Renewable Energy Access tells us that, due to rebates and other incentive programs, to include tax exemptions, New Jersey has become a very active market for solar applications. The United States Department of Energy embarked on a comprehensive, multi-level program of research, development, and demonstration of PV for large-scale terrestrial power use after a conference held in Cherry Hill, NJ in 1973.
Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. has their New York region parts-distribution center located in West Caldwell, New Jersey. Solar Integrated Technologies has been awarded a contract to provide a 700 kW BIPV roofing system, which is believed to be the world’s largest roof installation announced to date. The 700 kW solar thin-film roofing for for the Toyota parts distribution center is the largest size system eligible for New Jersey’s solar program. It is the second, BIPV (Building Integrated Photo Voltaic) project in New Jersey, which Solar Integrated has announced in recent weeks.
Most often, a BIPV system, whereby the building envelope material simultaneously serves as a means for power generation, is integrating into the the roof or the façade of the building. Thus, BIPV systems not only can provide savings in materials and electricity costs, reduce use of fossil fuels and emission of ozone depleting gases, but also add architectural interest to the building. “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.”
Nevertheless, as with any solar electric installation, BIPV systems do require a substantial investment with a long period for return on investment. Such systems are more expensive than ofter overlooked, yet simpler to implement passive solar strategies.
BIPV system diagram
Australian CRC for Renewable Energy Ltd.
A complete BIPV system includes:
a. PV modules (which might be thin-film or crystalline, transparent, semi-transparent, or opaque);
b. Charge controller, to regulate the power into and out of the battery storage bank (in stand-alone systems);
c. Power storage system, generally comprised of the utility grid in utility-interactive systems or, a number of batteries in stand-alone systems;
d. Power conversion equipment including an inverter to convert the PV modules’ DC output to AC compatible with the utility grid;
e. Backup power supplies such as diesel generators (optional-typically employed in stand-alone systems); and
f. Appropriate support and mounting hardware, wiring, and safety disconnects.
For more information, see Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) by Steven Strong, Solar Design Associates.