IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group III: Mitigation of Climate Change

6.4.7 Active collection and transformation of solar energy

Buildings can serve as collectors and transformers of solar energy, meeting a large fraction of their energy needs on a sustainable basis with minimal reliance on connection to energy grids, although for some climates this may only apply during the summer. As previously discussed, solar energy can be used for daylighting, for passive heating and as one of the driving forces for natural ventilation, which can often provide much or all of the required cooling. By combining a high-performance thermal envelope with efficient systems and devices, 50–75% of the heating and cooling energy needs of buildings as constructed under normal practice can either be eliminated or satisfied through passive solar design. Electricity loads, especially in commercial buildings, can be drastically reduced to a level that allows building-integrated photovoltaic panels (BiPV) to meet much of the remaining electrical demand during daytime hours. Photovoltaic panels can be supplemented by other forms of active solar energy, such as solar thermal collectors for hot water, space heating, absorption space cooling and dehumidification. Building-integrated PV (BiPV)

The principles governing photovoltaic (PV) power generation and the prospects for centralized PV production of electricity are discussed in Chapter 4, Section Building-integrated PV (BiPV) consists of PV modules that function as part of the building envelope (curtain walls, roof panels or shingles, shading devices, skylights). BiPV systems are sometimes installed in new ‘showcase’ buildings even before the systems are generally cost-effective. These early applications will increase the rate at which the cost of BiPVs comes down and the technical performance improves. A recent report presents data on the cost of PV modules and the installed-cost of PV systems in IEA countries (IEA, 2003b). Electricity costs from BiPV at present are in the range of 0.30–0.40 US$/kWh in good locations, but can drop considerably with mass production of PV modules (Payne et al., 2001).

Gutschner et al. (2001) have estimated the potential for power production from BiPV in IEA member countries. Estimates of the percentage of present total national electricity demand that could be provided by BiPV range from about 15% (Japan) to almost 60% (USA).