Building-Integrated photovoltaic technologies and systems for large-scale market deployment

BIPV Demo sites overview

A varied range of innovative BIPV products will be installed on six real buildings in five different European locations and climate conditions. Technology Readiness Level 7 (TRL7) will be demonstrated, meaning that the BIPV products in development should perform appropriately in their intended operational environments.

An overview of the demonstration sites and the products which will be installed is provided in the following tables. More details for each demonstration site are available below, along with a description of experimental sites where further testing of BIPV products will take place for the PVSITES project.


A report consultable at this link details the results of a preliminary energy audit and BIPV implementation plan for each demonstration site.


PVISTES demos sites description


Single House

The single house was built in 2015-2016 in accordance with passive and bioclimatic standards. It is already inhabited by the owner and monitored for various studies in terms of electric consumption, room temperature and relative humidity.


The south-facing single-slope roof was designed at an early stage for optimal solar exposure. Standard tiles have been mounted as a temporary roofing material before BIPV shingles replace them entirely during the course of the PVSITES project. The shingles will be made of steel with an integrated thin-film CIGS PV layer.


The electricity generated on the 107 m² of the roof will be directed to an energy management system featuring a battery bank. The system will optimize electricity storage and discharge so as to cover as much of the household consumption as possible. A connection to the grid will allow to import and export missing and surplus electricity as needed. Overall the installed BIPV system is expected to make the house an energy-plus building, meaning its net yearly energy production will exceed its consumption.


Educational building

The hotel school Ecole Hotelière de Genève (EHG) is comprised of three above-surface buildings interconnected by underground facilities. The main historical building dates from the 18th century while the other pavilions are more recent additions.



Large CIGS solar panels (up to 3 metres in length) will be installed on the brick facades of the two teaching pavilions located around the courtyard, facing each other. The five installation locations are marked on the picture above. The demonstrated products will upgrade the building aesthetics and enable production of electricity in the morning and afternoon hours, as the facades are west and east oriented. The orientation of the facades can be seen on the picture below.


EHG_implementation_plan_3.jpgPreliminary layout of CIGS modules on facade, corresponding to implementations 1, 2 and 3 on the overview photograph.



Two carports are pending construction in separate locations near Zurich: at the EMPA headquarters in Dübendorf, and in Seuzach. Sharing the same design, they will be built around purpose-made curved metal tiles sporting CIGS thin-film PV, providing both functional and esthetic value.

Both carports include an Electric Vehicle charger, so that the produced electricity can be directly used on location.



The Carport located at Empa is backed by an existing building sporting a bright facade, which is expected to increase PV production by reflecting sunlight on the carport. The scale of this effect will be monitored with the installation of dedicated measurement equipment.


Industrial Building

The roof of Cricursa’s industrial facility in Catalonia will be retrofitted with 200 m² of thin-film CIGS shingles. The shingles will be integrated in the roof structure so as to ensure an harmonious visual appearance.


As a glazing manufacturer Cricursa is also interested in the results of the PVSITES project for the possible future introduction of glazed BIPV products on the market.


Apartment Building

A ventilated BIPV façade will be added as a retrofit to a typical multi-storey social housing building in northern France.


One of the main objectives for installing BIPV at this location is to significantly reduce the electricity bills for the building, which will be to the benefit of the tenants. The impact of the BIPV façade on the thermal performance of the building envelope will also be investigated. Quite importantly the visual aspect of the ventilated façade should be pleasant and play a role in improving local perception of the building. If successful on all these criteria the chosen approach could be applied by Vilogia in other retrofit projects in the future.


Office Building

Two symmetrical ventilated BIPV façades will be installed at the Tecnalia building in San Sebastián, in the Spanish Basque country. The four levels of the building mainly host offices but also laboratories and special machines used for research purposes in the basement.


The ventilated façades will be made of glass-glass sheets with back-contact c-Si cells. They will be installed on existing windows on the second and third floors. Besides contributing to electricity production for the building, the added façades are expected to provide passive cooling by shading the windows and the office areas located behind them. These offices currently tend to overheat during the summer as the air conditioning system does not provide enough cooling effect.



The electricity produced by the BIPV installation will be used in combination with an experimental energy management system also developed by Tecnalia. The system will comprise batteries and an inverter supplying the building with regular AC electricity. The generated PV energy will be used to reduce and flatten the electricity consumption of the office building.


Experimental facilities

More innovative BIPV technologies will be tested at the following experimental sites. For these products Technology Readiness Level 6 (TRL6) should be reached by the end of the project, at which point the next step will be demonstration in real building applications.


NEST Experimental Building

NEST is a large modular research and innovation building owned and operated by EMPA and Eawag in Switzerland. It is a functional test site where innovative technologies, materials and systems can be validated under realistic use conditions.


BIPV prototypes manufactured by Flisom will be validated at NEST during the course of the project. Details will be communicated when available.


FACT Test Facility

FACT is a new testing facility at the INCAS test platform of the CEA INES (French National Institute for Solar Energy). The acronym “FACT” stands for “FACade Tool”. Operational since summer 2016, it provides a modular tool to evaluate the energy performance and impact of building envelopes on indoor environment quality. FACT allows to test with maximum flexibility:

  • Opaque and transparent façades
  • Building envelope integrated HVAC systems, PV and BIPV systems
  • Lightweight and massive façades


The tests to be conducted for PVSITES will demonstrate the technical feasibility and validate the performance of several BIPV solutions:

  • Curved glass with flexible CIGS
  • PV glass with back contact c-Si cells, hidden interconnections and glass treatments for improved aesthetics and passive properties
  • c-Si semitransparent low concentration solar control BIPV systems implemented in a skylight configuration

The products and solutions will be developed by Flisom, Onyx Solar and Tecnalia with the collaboration of other partners such as Film Optics.

The following parameters will be measured and optimized:

  • Electrical energy output (DC and AC)
  • Thermal behavior
  • Impact of the integrated products on their environment: visual and thermal comfort and quality of the indoor environment.


Testing of PVSITES products at the FACT facility is scheduled to start in 2017.


Testbox Facility

Testbox is one of the facilities operated by Acciona at the CESE3R test center. With an area of 6000m², CESE3R is dedicated to the applied validation of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies in buildings and industry.

Testbox is comprised of two identical containers into which a glass facade sporting PV cells is integrated. Both containers are monitored in terms of indoor comfort (temperature, humidity).


A c-Si semitransparent low-concentration BIPV system developed by Tecnalia in collaboration with Onyx Solar and Film Optics will be implemented in a façade configuration on one of the two containers, in combination with the existing PV cells.


The impact of the installation on electricity production and indoor comfort will be directly compared to reference conditions in the second container.