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Integrated Energy

CIGS photovoltaics convert facades into solar power plants

In collaboration with industry partners, the ZSW Baden-Württemberg in Stuttgart is researching the efficient use of thin-film photovoltaics on building facades.

15 Nov. 2017
Michael Triadan
ZSW
CIGS photovoltaics convert facades into solar power plants (Foto: ZSW Zentrum für Sonnenenergie- und Wasserstoff-F)

Together with partners from research and industry, scientists at the Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) are setting out to optimize CIGS thin-film photovoltaics for facades. CIGS stands for copper, indium, gallium, and selenide and denotes an ultra-thin type of solar cell that, in contrast to silicon modules, can be vapor-deposited on glass or plastic backing. The project now underway aims to explore how CIGS modules can be improved with respect to energy yield, shade tolerance, ease of installation, and flexibility when used on facades. The researchers also want to investigate safety, functionality, and reliability issues and better determine the energy efficiency potential of CIGS facades.

Currently around three quarters of all photovoltaic systems are perched on rooftops; another quarter is mounted on the ground. The number of building-integrated systems is insignificant by comparison. CIGS modules can, though, be very flexibly mounted on facades, since they not only offer facade designers the same leeway as glass, but can also perform all the classic outdoor functions such as wind and weather protection, shading and use of daylight, noise protection and thermal insulation. Moreover, for buildings with more than three floors, there is often more space on the exterior walls than on the roof.

In addition to the ZSW, the Center for Sustainable Energy Technology (zafh.net) at Stuttgart Technology University of Applied Sciences and Manz CIGS Technology , which was sold to Chinese joint-venture company NICE PV Research Ltd. in May, are also involved in the project. Other partners involved are the companies AVANCIS , Gantner Instruments , KACO new energy , SMA Solar Technology , and SolarEdge Technologies .

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