A critical part of maximizing the value of a BIPV system is planning for environmental and structural factors, both of which affect the economics, aesthetics and overall functionality of any solar system.
Insolation – This is the average amount of solar radiation received, usually calculated in kWh/m 2 /day. It is the most common way to describe the amount of solar energy resources in a specific area.
Climate and Weather Conditions – High ambient temperatures can reduce solar system output, and cloud and rainfall patterns can affect system output and maintenance requirements. Severe air pollution may require regular cleaning to improve efficiency.
Shading – Trees, nearby buildings, and other structures block sunlight, reducing the output of a photovoltaic system.
Latitude – The distance from the equator affects the optimal tilt angle of the solar panel to receive the sun’s radiation.
Building Energy Requirements – The design of a BIPV system should consider whether the building will be able to operate completely independent of the grid, which would require batteries or other on-site energy storage systems.
Solar System Design – The design of the photovoltaic system itself depends on the energy requirements of the building, as well as any structural or aesthetic constraints that may limit material selection. Crystalline silicon panels have a higher power output per square meter, but have greater cost and design constraints. Thin-film materials generate less electricity per square meter, but are less expensive and can be more easily integrated onto surfaces.