In Germany, A New Dimension In BIPV Takes Shape

In Germany, A New Dimension In BIPV Takes Shape

In the western Münster region of Germany, the new administration building of the Gronau municipal utility has a facade that will generate environmentally friendly solar power in the future. BGT Bischoff Glastechnik GmbH integrated the custom-designed solar modules manufactured by ASCA – an ARMOR Group company and world market leader in organic photovoltaics (OPV) – into the facade glass.

The project was conceived and carried out by the architects of H III S – harder stumpfl schramm freie Architekten from Stuttgart. “The display window facing the street visualizes the themes of energy and sustainability,” is how the architects explain the design. For this purpose, the glass modules with integrated ASCA solar film measuring 3.66 by 2.25 meters were attached to the south facade of the new building, alternating with conventional glass panes. “The size of the solar modules is world-class and no more complicated to produce than normal laminated glass panes. This represents a milestone for building integration of photovoltaics (BIPV),” explains Hermann Issa, ASCA’s senior vice president in charge of Business Development & Project Management.

building integration of photovoltaics

The glass façade at the administration building in Gronau covers an area of 222 square meters. Issa adds: “With this project, we are demonstrating how easy it is to manufacture solar-active façade elements with ASCA OPV products. Planners and designers no longer have to worry about technical hurdles, even with customized façade modules of this enormous size.”

Transparent glass modules produce electricity

The municipal utility moved into the building in late 2022. While the glass modules allow light into the building from the outside, they also offer a sense of enclosure and security despite their transparency – but also provide employees with a full view outside. The electricity is produced by organic photovoltaic cells (OPV), which ASCA applies to films using a special printing process. For the project in Gronau, ASCA produced green foils to match the surrounding clinker brick facade of the adjacent structures. “We were convinced that we could take advantage of many design options,” say the architects, who were impressed by how much influence they had in designing the solar foils. “Building-integrated photovoltaics is a hot topic that will continue to grow in importance in the future,” the architects say.

Developments in BIPV are particularly relevant to sunlight rich countries as it becomes vital to produce more energy locally. Cost and technical considerations have kept growth rates slow, but in China now, and hopefully in many more places soon, it’s offtake will speed up significantly. Even a limited BIPV facade is useful to reduce grid dependence, and bypass regulations regarding  grid connected energy, for instance.

ASCA, which is into design and development of customised solar solutions, is a subsidiary of ARMOR Holding. ARMOR is a manufacturer specialized in the formulation of inks and in thin film coating.

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