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Solar building skins as a way for achieving EPBD and EU policy targets

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Future life in cities, copyright by Siemens.

Future life in cities, copyright by Siemens.

Following the European Commission’s data, buildings are responsible for 40 % of final energy consumption and 36 % of CO2 emissions in the EU. About the 75% of the existing buildings are energy insufficient while only 0,4-1,2% of the building stock is renovated each year, depending on the various Member States. According to SETA Network this opens a vast potential for efficiency gains in Europe as well as for the integration of renewable energies in buildings and cities, in particular solar building skins (building integrated photovoltaics - BIPV). The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) and the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) regulations will make buildings smarter and more energy efficient, saving money and creating jobs in the renovation and construction sectors.

With the support of the European Commission the European Technology and Innovation Platform Photovoltaics (ETIP PV) is organising through the ‘ETIP BIPV and integrated PV’ working group a series of European workshops and conferences with title “Innovation in Solar Building Skins & Energy Efficiency towards Sustainable Cities”. The national events are co-organized by the various leading European national research institutes together with SETA Network and supported by national industries, stakeholders and associations.

The events are closely related to energy efficiency in buildings and cities with target to innovation in solar building skins, as well as related to areas such as smart grid, storage of renewable energies in buildings and cities, e-mobility and internet of Things (IoT). Key issue of the ETIP BIPV national events is the collaboration among the various stakeholders of the building design and construction process, such as architects, research institutes, building material industries, developers, investors, building owners and specialized BIPV industries. The various national workshops are based on the specific needs and opportunities of the respective national market structures in connection with the requirements for nearly zero-energy buildings (NZEBs) and positive energy buildings.

Following the EPBD recommendations is it important to prepare long term renovation strategies for environmental and energy improvement of buildings and cities and this offers as well a remarkable opportunity to BIPV diffusion. Other important issues in this regard are the building energy management systems to manage buildings’ performance. Moreover, digitisation and Internet of Things (IoT) will become even more preeminent in the building sector, and the interface with solar building skins will have the potential of becoming an important part in future smart cities.

Energy will be produced in the city - through renewable energies, such as BIPV, Wind, etc. - where it will be used. The combination and interface of e-vehicle charging stations with integrated PV in building skins and infrastructure constructions, will be an important issue and an added value in the concept of future city energy models. Cities have the potential to lead the energy transition as the front-runners.


In the frame of the urgent need of renovation of the existing building stock, special focus will be on building skins (roofs and facades) to make them not only more efficient through the use of innovative materials, but this includes as well the unique opportunity to combine the renovation strategies in cities and districts with large-scale application of solar building skins or building integrated photovoltaics for self-consumption and possible exchange with the smart grid. In order to reach the targets until 2030 - only 12 years from now - this opportunity should be supported strongly through European and national policies as the production of renewable energies, in particular BIPV, in districts and cities has still an underestimated huge potential which may support the nearly zero-energy buildings (NZEBs) to become future positive energy buildings.

It’s important to underline how an essential part of the execution of the basic principles of the EPBD directive will be precisely the preparation of feasibility studies in the first step. SETA Network suggestion is to develop pilot projects in towns and cities to showcase and to inform the public opinion about future technological and environmental life stile changes they will face in 2030 and further on.