India goes Solar with BIPV using Vertical Solar system in Facade

India goes Solar with BIPV: Vertical Solar System is Future?

The energy consumption of buildings accounts for about one-third of the total energy consumption in India. The concern for this massive consumption rises considering the fact that more than 70% of the buildings that will stand in India in 2030 are yet to be built. Clearly, making buildings power environment friendly, in addition to native producers of fresh power, is precedence for the nation. Surfaces Reporter (SR) finds out how the energy consumption of buildings can be lower to the minimum by using BIPV.

Vertical Solar System

As the buildings grow vertically in almost all major cities, it is but natural to imagine the growth of solar on this vertical plane. Even though the vertical installation of solar PV on buildings has been demonstrated as a technically feasible option for some time now, the falling of solar PV prices is leading a new spurt of growth towards it. However, with a market share of approximately 1% in the global solar PV market, BIPV (Building Integrated Photovoltaics) is still a niche application.

What is BIPV?

BIPV is an integration of the solar PV system into a building’s envelope (façade). Apart from serving as a ‘skin’ to the building, the solar modules can also generate clean power in the process.

A few years back, the EU-funded PVSites project had estimated that by 2022, BIPV will account for around 13% of the total PV market.

How the BIPV System Performs?

Within the case of vertical BIPV methods, a lowered output needs to be anticipated as all of the panels can’t be positioned within the optimum path from an influence era standpoint. Special adjustments, orientation, partial shadow, temperature effects, etc. come into play while concluding the relatively highest output generation.

Vertical BIPV really opens up the quantum of local energy generation, and a decision on the viability should be done after evaluating the system’s return on investment (ROI).

For example, in the case of U-Solar’s data center project in Mumbai, the facades provide a total area of at least 7-8 times that available on the roof assuming the entire roof is empty, which isn’t.

Vertical Solar System

Image courtesy:

Challenges to Integrate BIPV into an existing building

There are usually two types of glass facade in buildings, view/vision glass (transparent) and spandrel glass (opaque). While progress is being made on ‘see-through’ solar PV, it is easier and cost-effective to replace spandrel glass because the PV modules do not have to be customized for the passage of light.

A rooftop solar system can be installed at any stage, i.e. if the building is in the planning, construction, or building stage. For a BIPV system, however, the costs change radically when considering new projects vs. existing buildings due to the duplication of several costs. Additionally, by working with the building developers at the planning stage, BIPV designers can suggest the optimum building orientation to maximize electricity generation from the integrated solar plant.

Case Study:

In 2019, U-Solar Clean Energy Solutions Pvt. Ltd. installed India’s largest building-integrated vertical solar PV system at a data center in Mumbai. The system, with a capacity of about 1 MW, has been installed by integrating solar panels on all four walls of the facility, covering over 5000 square feet of facade area.

Challenges faced by U-Solar Clean Energy Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

U-Solar Clean Energy Solutions Pvt. Ltd. Installed BIPV into an existing building and that made the project with its unique set of challenges. It called for the use of custom-designed aluminum rails as the module mounting structure. Frameless panels were used on the facade.

The panels were connected as they were placed on the structure, and electrical work and construction took place simultaneously for a timely delivery.

The previous construction of the building played as a constraint to harness the solar energy. To partially address this issue, power optimizers have been used on each panel. Power optimizers increase energy output from PV systems by constantly tracking the maximum power point (MPPT) of each module individually. They can also monitor the performance of each module.

In terms of environmental benefits, U-Solar estimates the solar power system will help provide a CO2 emissions reduction equivalent to almost 7000 trees per year.


Newer technologies entering the market are already increasing the customization options, such as modules that have colored glass or wafers as well as modules that allow visible light to pass through. These can accelerate the adoption of BIPV systems by improving the building’s aesthetics.

The dialogue on prices is a moot level. A lesson we repeatedly are taught on know-how prices is that it’s merely depending on the scale! On condition that constructing power is a big chunk of the demand pie, all we have to cause out is that if BIPV is value doing at a giant scale.

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