Feature Article

Building-Integrated Photovoltaics: Putting Power Production Where It Belongs

A lot of finger-pointing is going on in California these days. The rolling blackouts in January were due to deregulation gone awry … or failure to project rapid growth in demand … or permitting delays … or bottlenecks in power transmission. One thing is crystal clear, however: energy is back on the radar screen. People are talking about the oft-ignored commodity of electricity like never before. Some say that California’s problems this past January are a harbinger of things to come—on a much wider level—this summer. Far from unnoticed in all this discussion are the homes and businesses in California that were insulated from the rolling blackouts because they generate their own power with photovoltaic (PV) modules.

While PV power has been around more than 40 years, interest in this power-production technology has mushroomed recently. Production costs have continued to drop, and options have increased for integrating modules elegantly into buildings. This article takes a look at the state-of-the-art with PV power and building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) specifically.

Published March 1, 2001