Building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) are photovoltaic elements that are used to replace conventional building materials in parts of the building envelope (roof, or facades). They are increasingly being incorporated into the construction of new buildings as a principal or ancillary source of electrical power, rather than added on later, although existing buildings may be retrofitted with similar technology. The advantage of integrated PVs over more common non-integrated systems is that the initial cost can be offset by reducing the amount spent on building materials and labour that would normally be used to construct the part of the building that the BIPV modules replace. These advantages make BIPV one of the fastest growing segments of the photovoltaic industry forecasted to add 4.6 GW of new capacity by 2017 globally (Pike Research, August 2012).
BIPV is sometimes the optimal method of installing renewable energy systems in urban, built-up areas where undeveloped land is both scarce and expensive and in fact a wide variety of BIPV systems are available in today's markets. In both new projects and renovations, BIPV is proving to be an effective building energy technology in residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings and structures. It is generally expected that in the next century, photovoltaics will be able to contribute substantially to the mainstream power production, and that through their widespread commercialization, BIPV systems will become the backbone of the zero energy building (ZEB) European target for 2020.
Despite technical promise, social barriers to widespread use have been identified (conservative culture of the building industry and integration with high-density urban design) and in fact, there is a notable disparity between the progress made in terms of the technology and the knowledge and skills of the professionals (architects, engineers, designers, planners) who are ultimately responsible for the integration of BIPV systems. PV can be included in building projects only if the professionals involved in the development have sufficient knowledge about PV technologies and appropriate design tools to assist them. High level of knowledge and skills is required for successful BIPV systems planning since the projects realized in the past show that a successful BIPV system designing is based heavily on technical knowledge and competences. Poorly designed systems usually have to be redesigned or repaired, consequently swelling maintenance costs and lowering system efficiency rate.
The general objective of HEIs is to provide high quality education utilizing modern learning methods. In particular for engineering departments, learning has to be in line with the needs of the industry and the new trends (such as renewable sources of energy, sustainability and PV for example). Meeting the needs of the EU industry in general and the local industry in particular and forging sustainable relationships with the industry are important issues. For the industry the objective is to be competitive and help enhance their presence on the market in the field of BIPV. An important aspect is skilled staff with up to date knowledge, something which this project is aiming at. For other partners & stakeholders their objective is o help enhance knowledge in the field and keep up to date with the technology and adoption of it.
In an increasingly globalised and knowledge-based economy, Europe is in need of a well-skilled workforce to compete in terms of productivity, quality, and innovation. The proposed project is fully aligned with the EU’s commitment “to contribute to the development of quality education by encouraging cooperation between Member States, through actions such as promoting the mobility of citizens, designing joint study programmes, establishing networks, exchanging information or teaching languages of the European Union” (Art. 165 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union).
Dem4BiPV is based on the principle of European cooperation through which innovative educational material utilizing ICTs will emerge on the topic of BIPV, which is of crucial importance for the future development and penetration of the PV market in Europe with a potential significant contribution in meeting Europe’s energy challenges. Education and training are crucial for both economic and social progress, and aligning skills with labour market needs plays a key role in this. This project has been designed and structured so as to meet the real needs of the PV market and and contributes positively to EU benchmarks for 2020 in relation to education. It also indirectly tackles fast-rising youth unemployment, as it places emphasis on delivering the right skills for employment in the BIPV industry and increasing the efficiency of higher education in the field of sustainable energy and on working collaboratively with all relevant stakeholders.