Modeling the Life Cycle Energy and Environmental Performance of Amorphous Silicon BIPV Roofing in the US
Building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) perform traditional architectural functions of walls and roofs while also generation electricity. The displacement of utility generated electricity and conventional building materials can conserve fossil fuels and have environmental benefits. A life cycle inventory model is presented that characterizes the energy and environmental performance of BIPV systems relative to the conventional grid and displaced building materials. The model is applied to an amorphous silicon PV roofing shingle in different regions across the US. The electricity production efficiency (electricity output/total primary energy input excluding insolation) for a reference BIPV system (2kWp PV shingle system with a 6% conversion efficiency and 20 year life) ranged from 3.6 in Portland OR to 5.9 in Phoenix, AZ indicating a significant return on energy investment. The reference system had the greatest air pollution prevention benefits in cities with conventional electricity generation mixes dominated by coal and natural gas, not necessarily in cities where the insolation and displaced conventional electricity were greatest.