Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV)
Building-integrated photovoltaic materials are manufactured with the double purpose of producing electricity and serving as construction materials. They can replace traditional building components, including curtain walls, skylights, atrium roofs, awnings, roof tiles and shingles, and windows.
Concentrating photovoltaic collectors use devices such as Fresnel lenses, mirrors, and mirrored dishes to concentrate sunlight onto a solar cell. Certain solar cells, such as gallium arsenide cells, can efficiently convert concentrated solar energy into electricity, allowing the use of only a small amount of semiconducting material per square foot of solar collector. Concentrating collectors are usually mounted on a two-axis tracking system to keep the collector pointed toward the sun.
Balance of System (BOS) Components
The balance of system (BOS) components include everything in a photovoltaic system other than the photovoltaic modules. BOS components may include mounting structures, tracking devices, batteries, power electronics (including an inverter, a charge controller, and a grid interconnection), and other devices.
Advanced Solar Cells
A variety of advanced approaches to solar cells are under investigation. Dye-sensitized solar cells use a dye-impregnated layer of titanium dioxide to generate a voltage, rather than the semiconducting materials used in most solar cells. Because titanium dioxide is relatively inexpensive, they offer the potential to significantly cut the cost of solar cells. Other advanced approaches include polymer (or plastic) solar cells (which may include large carbon molecules called fullerenes) and photoelectrochemical cells, which produce hydrogen directly from water in the presence of sunlight.