Energy Efficient Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV)

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) seamlessly integrate solar panels into building materials, such as roof tiles, windows, and facades. This allows buildings to generate electricity from their own surfaces, reducing reliance on the grid and contributing to a more sustainable built environment.

Impact on climate action

Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) within Energy-Efficient Buildings revolutionize climate action by seamlessly integrating solar panels into building materials. By generating renewable energy on-site, reducing electricity demand, and lowering carbon emissions, this innovation promotes sustainable construction practices and accelerates the transition to a low-carbon built environment.


  • Photovoltaic (PV) Cells: BIPV systems use PV cells, similar to those found in traditional solar panels, to convert sunlight into electricity. These cells are typically made from silicon or other semiconductor materials.
  • Building Materials Integration: PV cells are integrated into building materials, such as glass, concrete, and metal, to create multifunctional building components that generate electricity while serving as part of the building envelope.
  • Architectural Design: BIPV systems need to be aesthetically pleasing and integrated into the architectural design of the building. This involves considering factors such as color, texture, and form to ensure that the BIPV elements complement the overall building design.
  • Building Energy Management Systems: BIPV systems can be integrated with building energy management systems to optimize energy usage and maximize the benefits of solar power.

TRL : 6-8 (depending on the specific BIPV technology)

Prominent Innovation themes

  • High-Efficiency BIPV Materials: Researchers and startups are developing new BIPV materials with higher efficiencies and improved aesthetics, making them more attractive for building applications. This includes advancements in thin-film solar cell technologies, such as CIGS (copper indium gallium selenide) and CdTe (cadmium telluride), as well as the development of perovskite solar cells with improved stability and durability.
  • Transparent and Semi-Transparent Solar Cells: Transparent and semi-transparent solar cells are being developed to create BIPV windows and facades that can generate electricity while still allowing light to pass through. This technology offers the potential to transform windows into energy-generating surfaces without compromising natural light or views.
  • Flexible and Lightweight BIPV Modules: Flexible and lightweight BIPV modules are being developed to make it easier to integrate solar panels into complex building designs and curved surfaces. This expands the range of applications for BIPV and allows for greater design flexibility.
  • Building-Integrated Energy Storage: Integrating energy storage systems with BIPV can create self-sufficient buildings that can generate and store their own renewable energy. This can improve energy resilience and reduce reliance on the grid.

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  1. Tesla:
    • Technology Enhancement: Tesla is known for its innovative approach to solar energy solutions, including building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV). Their Solar Roof product integrates solar cells directly into roofing materials, providing a seamless and aesthetically pleasing solar energy solution for residential and commercial buildings. Tesla’s Solar Roof combines solar energy generation with durable roofing materials to offer both functionality and style.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Tesla stands out for its focus on design, technology, and sustainability in the solar industry. Their Solar Roof product is designed to mimic traditional roofing materials while harnessing solar energy, offering customers a visually appealing and eco-friendly alternative to conventional roofs. Tesla’s integration of solar cells into building materials demonstrates their commitment to advancing BIPV technology and promoting renewable energy adoption.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Tesla serves homeowners, businesses, and property developers seeking innovative and sustainable building solutions. Their Solar Roof product is ideal for new construction projects, renovations, and retrofitting existing buildings with solar energy capabilities. By offering BIPV solutions, Tesla aims to make solar power more accessible and integrated into the built environment.
  2. SunStyle:
    • Technology Enhancement: SunStyle specializes in building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) solutions for commercial and residential applications. Their products include solar glass panels that can be seamlessly integrated into building facades, windows, and other architectural elements. SunStyle’s BIPV solutions combine solar energy generation with architectural design, providing customers with customizable and energy-efficient building solutions.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: SunStyle stands out for its expertise in customizing BIPV solutions to meet the unique requirements of architectural projects. Their solar glass panels offer flexibility in design, allowing architects and builders to incorporate solar energy generation into buildings without compromising aesthetics. SunStyle’s focus on blending solar technology with architectural design sets them apart in the BIPV market.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: SunStyle serves architects, developers, and building owners seeking innovative and sustainable building materials. Their BIPV solutions are suitable for a wide range of applications, including commercial buildings, residential homes, and public infrastructure projects. By offering customizable and integrated solar solutions, SunStyle aims to contribute to the widespread adoption of renewable energy in the construction industry.
  3. Onyx Solar:
    • Technology Enhancement: Onyx Solar specializes in the development and manufacturing of transparent photovoltaic glass for building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV). Their solar glass products can be installed as windows, skylights, canopies, and facades, allowing buildings to generate solar energy while maintaining natural light transmission. Onyx Solar’s BIPV solutions offer architects and builders a sustainable and energy-efficient alternative to conventional building materials.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Onyx Solar stands out for its focus on transparent photovoltaic technology and its commitment to architectural integration. Their solar glass products are designed to blend seamlessly with building structures, providing aesthetic appeal and functional benefits. Onyx Solar’s emphasis on both energy generation and architectural design sets them apart in the BIPV market.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Onyx Solar serves architects, developers, and building owners seeking innovative and sustainable building solutions. Their BIPV products are suitable for various building types and applications, including commercial, residential, and institutional projects. By offering transparent photovoltaic glass, Onyx Solar aims to promote the adoption of renewable energy in the built environment while enhancing building aesthetics and performance.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT):
    • Research Focus: MIT is a pioneer in the research and development of Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV), focusing on the integration of solar photovoltaic technologies into building materials and architectural elements to enhance energy efficiency and aesthetics.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves the design and fabrication of solar-active building components such as solar windows, facades, and roofing materials that seamlessly blend with the building envelope while generating electricity from sunlight. They explore innovative materials, manufacturing techniques, and system integration approaches to optimize energy generation, thermal performance, and occupant comfort.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work find applications in commercial buildings, residential developments, and urban infrastructure projects. By integrating BIPV solutions into the built environment, MIT’s research enables buildings to generate renewable energy onsite, reduce carbon emissions, and contribute to sustainable urban development.
  2. Stanford University:
    • Research Focus: Stanford University conducts groundbreaking research on Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV), leveraging its expertise in materials science, optics, and building physics to develop novel BIPV technologies with enhanced performance, durability, and architectural appeal.
    • Uniqueness: Their research encompasses the development of multifunctional solar materials, transparent conductive coatings, and light management strategies for maximizing solar absorption and power conversion efficiency in BIPV systems. They also investigate advanced modeling techniques, energy management algorithms, and building simulation tools to optimize the integration and operation of BIPV solutions in diverse building environments.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in green building design, smart cities, and sustainable infrastructure projects. By advancing BIPV technologies, Stanford’s research enables buildings to serve as active contributors to the renewable energy transition, enhancing energy security, resilience, and environmental performance.
  3. ETH Zurich:
    • Research Focus: ETH Zurich is at the forefront of research on Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV), leveraging its expertise in architecture, materials science, and renewable energy systems to develop innovative BIPV solutions that merge functionality with architectural design.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves the integration of photovoltaic elements into building facades, roofs, and shading devices to harness solar energy while enhancing building aesthetics and environmental performance. They explore advanced fabrication techniques, smart materials, and responsive building systems to create adaptable BIPV solutions that respond to varying climate conditions and user preferences.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work find applications in urban renewal projects, heritage conservation, and sustainable development initiatives. By integrating BIPV into building design and construction practices, ETH Zurich’s research contributes to the creation of energy-efficient, resilient, and visually compelling built environments that support the transition to a low-carbon future.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

BIPV systems are being implemented in commercial and residential buildings around the world. For example, the Tesla Solar Roof has been installed on thousands of homes in the United States, while SunStyle’s BIPV products have been used in various commercial and institutional buildings. Onyx Solar’s BIPV glass solutions have been used in iconic buildings such as the Dubai Frame and the Miami Heat Arena.