Thin-film photovoltaic (PV) cells are now doubling as rooftop shingles. Research on thin-film PV and a growing interest in integrating PV into buildings has resulted in this new building material that generates electricity using sunlight.
Designers need to take care when incorporating solar roofing shingles. The dark color and high absortivity can actually add the building's thermal load. The shingles need to be thermally isolated from the building so they don't heat the building. The climate and thermal insulation level will determine whether solar shingles help or hurt the building's energy performance.
The new PV shingles are being manufactured by a U.S. company, United Solar Systems Corporation. The energy generated from a building's PV rooftop shingles can provide power both to the building and to the utility's power grid. Several demonstration projects, including a solar rooftop system showcased at the Southface Energy and Environmental Resource Center in Atlanta, Georgia, have proven that these innovative shingles can provide clean electricity.
PV shingles offer many advantages: