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Presenting the Future of PV - Waaree BIPV Modules!

28th July 2020  

INTRODUCTION

The word "green” is associated with anything that makes the environment slight better & cleaner than its existing state. With the global warming becoming a serious issue, green products are making a comeback in today’s market. Energy generation around the world is very closely related with global warming as it is predominantly fossil fuel based and the scenario in India is no different. When bifurcating installed capacity wise, the thermal sources account for more than 60% of country’s capacity (Figure 1). While renewable energy sources have been on the rise in country, a lot more efforts are needed in order to achieve the country’s sustainable goals. One such emerging market offering a package of sustainable product in one is Green Building. A green building is the one which generates all the resources it needs by itself without polluting the environment. When focusing on energy needs, a green building is able to produce all/part of itsenergy needs from renewable sources like solar PV, biomass, Geothermal, etc. As such buildings are self-sustaining and need no external support for functioning, they are in lime light now. Further with the world now demanding net-zero energy buildings, efforts are in full-fledged to adopt such buildings in both existing and new construction.



Figure 1: India's installed capacity mix (Source: CEA & Waaree research)


BUILDING INTEGRATED PHOTO-VOLTAIC (BIPV) MODULES

With the height of the buildings increasing, its energy consumption and hence its energy demand was deemed to increase. Further as the space requirement of all renewable energy power plant increases for increase in energy demand, it was time to look for an alternative solution which was both economical and feasible. Solar PV is an immediate option as it costs less and the capacity upgrade requires only handful of expansion. However solar PV was a solution limited only to the rooftops of buildings and with such buildings having a limited horizontal footprint, an innovative solution was needed. One such solution was to integrate the solar modules over/ in place ofthe vertical walls / see through glasses of the buildings. Better known asBIPV (Building Integrated Photovoltaic) system, they integrate PV module with buildings element such as roof and façade which both serves as a building envelope material and generate energy.

In the late 2017 our article titled "BIPV: A Future Tech or a Myth?” we had already introduced BIPV, its features & its challenges. The implementation of BIPV has however now started gaining traction because of the net-zero building demand and the top commercial giants moving to 100% renewable energy. The advantage of installing such modules over the buildings are multi-pronged as mentioned below:

  • BIPV provides thermal insulation (heating as well as cooling) to the building when it acts as a replacement for wall / windows. It however requires an extra layer of glass filled with gas for such purpose. It could be installed externally or could be an inherit part of the module as required
  • BIPV module when replacing the wall provides active noise protection/cancellation
  • The BIPV modules have a wide range of operating temperature from - 40 °C to +85 °C meaning that it can operate in the extreme temperatures & almost anywhere
  • BIPV enables the building to have enhanced aesthetic or match the existing aesthetic look
  • BIPV system(s) canbe interfaced with the available utility grid or could be used in stand-alone system/ off grid system
  • BIPV provides mechanical resistibility and structural integrity to a building
  • BIPV modules just like the outer façade process from aggressive weather factors like snow, rain, hail, wind, etc.

LARGEST BIPV INSTALLATION IN INDIA

With its well-known advantages and wide applicability, BIPV’s utilization for green buildings is an ideal choice. There has been widespread installations of such modules in other countries but India is still an emerging market, only till now. The country has recently commissioned its largest BIPV installation of 863 kW. This installation is on CtrlS Datacentre building in Mumbai which is the country’s rated-4 Data centre providing the highest guaranteed uptime of 99.995%. The building has utilized special modules provided by Waaree Energies. The modules were installed onto aluminium rails and then the assembly was fixed upon vertical steel section which was further held by a steel anchor. The steel anchor was bolted upon the masonry. An external thermal insulation and ventilation gap was provided between the masonry & steel section ensuring that the entire façade acted as a comprehensive replacement for walls (Figure 3).


Figure 2: India’s largest BIPV module installation at CtrlS Datacenters Ltd., Mumbai which utilizes Waaree’s PV modules


The data centre has total solar PV power capacity of 863 kWp. It has used 2,466 number of highly efficient mono PERC solar modules of 350 Wp, which were the best in class modules at the time of order execution. 60% of these modules are installed in south east & south west and the rest 40% are installed in the remaining direction (Figure 3). In order to offset the mismatch between energy generation amongst the modules, the power plant is integrated with 1,233 number of power optimizers.



Figure 3: Orientation wise capacity of power plant (Data Source: CTRLS)


The plant has been commissioned in November-19 and it has been generating steady power since then. On an average, the plant is generating around 43 MWh/ month which is around 7% higher than the energy output simulated on an industrial standard software. The performance ratio (PR) of the plant within this span has been in between 78%~80% which depicts the ability of module to perform in the worst of the conditions alongside the correctness of the plant design. The plant is able to offset around 1,100 tons of carbon dioxide per year due to such energy generation. While technically the power plant is working over and above expectations, it is also important to understand the commercial return from the plant. The traditional solar PV plant typically has a Return on Investment (ROI) of 3~5 years depending of course on the type of the power plant and the technology used in it. Further the ROI calculations of typical power plants are much straight-forward and well documented when compared to a BIPV plant. When only considering costs incurred and the energy generated, the ROI of a BIPV plant ranges between 7~9 years. However BIPV modules acts as a replacement to glass/ outer periphery wall of building which results in direct cost reduction. Further it also reduced the heating / cooling loads of the building. Further, having a traditional PV plant of such high power output needs massive land whose cost is offset. Thus a comprehensive consideration is needed when calculating ROI of a BIPV plant. With such savings, the ROI can be considerately reduced this making BIPV an attractive option in the immediate future.


Figure 4: Actual generation of BIPV modules from December 2019 to May 2020 (Data Source: CTRLS)


WAY AHEAD FOR BIPV PLANTS

With the power output of module ever increasing with a parallel drop in its prices, PV markets overall seems to be growing exponentially. Further with an increase in power output & minimal increase in size, there is an extra savings in BOS cost in power plant which is also replicable when using it in BIPV plant. This means that BIPV would also be one of the main stream markets in the near future. Additionally with the government mandating solar PV by pushing for green buildings, we expect that the traditional solar modules would be replaced by BIPV modules at least in rooftop and C&I segments. Waaree Energies also have a special BIPV module which can cater to the demand of architect / end customer where all the required properties of thermal barrier, noise cancellation, mechanical rigidity & support are power packed into a single PV module. Combined with Waaree’s track record of long term reliability & unmatched power performance, these module(s) shall be the default choice of end customers.


Figure 5: Waaree's BIPV module


Let us all pledge to make solar energy the primary source of energy in the near future.

RAHE ROSHAN HAMARA NATION

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