Integrability Evaluation Methodology for Building Integrated Photovoltaic's (BIPV) : A Study in Indian Climatic Conditions
Eranki, Gayathri Aaditya
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India’s geographical location renders it with ample solar-energy potential ranging from 4-7 kWh/m2 daily and 2,300–3,200 sunshine hours annually. The diverse nature of human settlements (scattered low-rise to dense high-rise) in India is one of the unexplored avenues of harnessing solar energy through electricity generation using photovoltaic (PV) technology. Solar energy is a promising alternative that carries adequate potential to support the growing energy demands of India’s burgeoning population. A previous study estimates, by the year 2070, with 425 million households (of which utilizing only 20 %), about 90 TWh of electrical energy can be generated utilizing solar energy. PV is viable for onsite distributed (decentralized) power generation offering advantages of size and scale variability, modularity, relatively low maintenance and integration into buildings (no additional demand land). The application of solar PV technology as the building envelope viz., walls, façade, fenestration, roof and skylights is termed Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV). Apart from generating electricity, PV has to also function as a building envelope, which makes BIPV systems unique. Even with a gradual rise in the number of BIPV installations across the world over the years, a common consensus on their evaluation has not yet been developed. Unlike PV in a ground mounted system, its application in buildings as an envelope has huge implications on both PV and building performance. The functions of PV as a building material translates well beyond electricity generation alone and would also have to look into various aspects like the thermal comfort, weather proofing, structural rigidity, natural lighting, thermal insulation, shading, noise protection safety and aesthetics. To integrate PV into a residential building successfully serving the purpose (given the low energy densities of PV and initial cost), would also mean considering factors like the buildings electricity requirement and economic viability. As many studies have revealed, 40% of electricity consumed in a building is utilized for maintaining indoor thermal comfort. Tropical regions, such as India, are generally characterized by high temperatures and humidity attributed to good sunlight, therefore, the externality considered for this study has been the impact of BIPV on the thermal comfort. Passive designs need to regulate the buildings solar exposure by integrating a combination of appropriate thermal massing, material selection, space orientation and natural ventilation. On the other hand, PV design primarily aims to maximize solar to generate maximum energy. The design requirements for climate-responsive building design may thus infringe upon those required for optimal PV performance. Regulating indoor thermal comfort in tropical regions poses a particular challenge under such conditions, as the indoor temperature is likely to be sensitive to external temperature variations. In addition, given current performance efficiencies for various PVs, high initial cost and space requirement, it is also crucial to ascertain PV’s ability to efficiently support buildings energy requirement. Thus, BIPV would require addressing, concurrently, design requirements for energy-efficient building performance, effective PV integration, and societal feasibility. A real time roof integrated BIPV system (5.25 kW) installed at the Center for Sustainable Technologies at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore has been studied for its PV and building thermal performance. The study aims at understanding a BIPV system (based on crystalline silicon) from the technical (climate-responsiveness and PV performance), social (energy requirement and energy efficiency) and economical (costs and benefits) grounds and identifies relevant factors to quantify performance of any BIPV system. A methodology for BIPV evaluation has been proposed (Integrability Methodology), especially for urban localities, which can also be adopted for various PV configurations, building typologies and climatic zones. In the process, a novel parameter (thermal comfort energy) to evaluate the thermal performance of naturally ventilated buildings combining climate-responsiveness and thermal comfort aspects has also been developed. An Integrability Index has also been devised, integrating various building performance factors, to evaluate and compare the performance of BIPV structures. The methodology has been applied to the 5.25 kW BIPV system and the index has been computed to be 0.17 (on a scale of 0 – 1). An insulated BIPV system (building applied photovoltaic system) has been found to be favorable for the climate of Bangalore than BIPV. BIPV systems have also been compared across three different climates (Bangalore, Shillong and Delhi) and given the consideration of the same system for comparison, the system in Delhi is predicted to have a higher Integrability than the other two systems. The current research work is a maiden effort, that aims at developing and testing a framework to evaluate BIPV systems comprising technical, social and economic factors.
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