Photovoltaic Glass (BIPV) | Solar windows

Dandelion Renewables is completing one of Edmonton’s first Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) installations at Dominion Hotel on Whyte Avenue, Edmonton. We were contracted by Beljan Developments to retrofit the existing skylights with solar PV glass to offset some of the building’s electrical consumption. Seven 2.5m x 1m sealed amorphous glass units each capable of generating 100W for a total 700W of solar were supplied by the Spanish company, Onyx, the world leaders in photovoltaic glazing supply. The existing old skylight reached the end of life and needed replacement. PV glass option costs came close to the cost of the regular glass skylight and it was economical for the developer to go with this solar generation option.

Since the electrical equipment such as inverters and breakers were already being installed, Dandelion Renewables found it was economical to boost the production of the system by installing a small flat roof ballasted PV system in addition to the PV glass, making for a total capacity of 4.7kW. We learned a unique blend of skills and equipment is necessary to work with PV glazing. Dandelion Renewables is proud to be able to offer this to Edmonton, Alberta and Western Canada community.

Solar glass is usually in one of two forms: amorphous silicon or crystalline. Both can range in transparency but, naturally, the more light that is let through and the less efficient the electrical generation becomes. The amorphous silicon (a-Si) looks like tinted glass and can range in transparency up to 30%. The crystalline glazing looks more like a traditional photovoltaic panel except that the material holding the PV cells in place is glass. The most efficient amorphous units reach an output of 58W/m2, equivalent to 5.6% efficiency, while the crystalline glazing can reach efficiencies of 165W/m2, equivalent to 16%. Economics for these units are highly dependent on site specifics such as solar access, required transparency and, most importantly, what the alternative is.

Solar windows come in any form that regular windows do such as single, double or triple pane and their efficiency only increase as temperature decreases.

If you have a new build or retrofit and would like to know more about solar glazing, including skylights and windows we would be happy to help you!