What is Solar Roofing

Solar roofing is a great way of generating solar power, especially for home owners. Solar roofing comprises of solar panel shingles built to look like normal housing roof tiles. These Solar panel shingles contain photovoltaic cells. Therefore this technology is also called building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV). The solar panel roofing shingles costs around the same as solar panels. Also the easy camouflage of the shingles gives it an extra edge over the other solar array methods of implementation.

Around in 2005, solar roofing was started being put to practical usage, though the demonstrations have been going on for a couple of decades now.

Working of Solar Roof

Solar roofing is primarily another way of setting up solar arrays for using solar energy. Building solar roofs is mostly the same as building normal roof shingles except there is a solar array laid in it. Solar roofing shingles are made up of photovoltaic solar cells coupled up with a back pattern similar the normal roofing of the house. This backing case gives the required stability and strength to the solar roofing system.

The shingles contain polycrystalline cells which are made usually of amorphous silicon or from metals like copper and indium. Each shingle is around 10 by 90 inches in size, though the sizes are variable. These cells use the solar energy falling on them to convert it to usable forms. This is then supplied to the house for daily usages.

Although the efficiency of solar array laid in the solar roofing systems is lower than that of normal solar arrays, there has been an increase in the efficiency of the systems of solar roofing. A major leap has been in using better materials and making the shingles so as to cover optimum surface area.

Benefits of Solar Roofing

Solar roofing has its ecological as well as economic benefits .Solar roofing is a helpful solar technology as the roofing is close to the source of energy-sun, throughout the daytime. The installation cost of the solar roofing is comparable to other solar arrays.
Solar roofing is an innovative and efficient source of tapping solar power, with little maintenance being involved after installation. Also the roofing can be easily camouflaged unlike other means of implanting solar array. 

  • Reduces electricity bill – Solar roofing can help in reducing electricity bills. Further it can be a great source of energy for population not well connected to the grid. The benefits to remote population living in developing and poor countries can be immense.
  • Easy installations- The installation of solar roofs is manageable. The installation goes much like the installation of normal shingles. Therefore Solar panel shingles is easier to implement and start for solar energy generation.
  • Environmental Aspects – Solar roofing helps in providing an effective alternate source of energy generation. Solar energy being renewable and non-polluting helps in keeping the environment clean. Also there is no air pollution related to the generation technique.
  • Low up gradation costs – For installing newer versions of solar roofing, a lower rate is required. The time required for installation of Solar roofing is also half of the normal time required for installation of solar arrays.
  • Very similar appearance – The solar roofing is applied such that there is little difference between the appearance of solar roofs and normal roofs. This is because of the protective back layer that the shingles have. Similar appearance helps in the usage of solar technology in a more sophisticated manner.

Limitations with Solar Roofing

Solar Roofing does have some limitations as the technology is still in its early stages of implementation. There are technical as well as economical glitches that are to be overcome before the solar roofing can be used on a large and practical scale.solar roofs
Some of the major limitations are:

  • Expensive installations cost – The premiere limitation of the solar roofing is the installation costs that the roofs have. This leads to major apprehensions over the feasibility of the technology as well as the scope of solar roofing. With the technology become increasingly innovative, there is a hope of the costs coming down in the future, though the process should take time.
  • Efficiency is still being improved – Efficiency of the solar roofs is less than that of the normal solar arrays. The efficiency is one technical area still being worked at by the technicians.
  • Depends on the roof orientation and the climate – Solar Roofing has major dependence on the climate and the sunlight coming through. Solar roofs need to be oriented in the most optimum possible manner covering the desirable surface area for feasible usage. Also solar roofs only help in providing certain leverage to the main source of power.
  • Need of technical assistance in installation and further usage – There is a need of technical support for the installation and usage of the shingles. Unlike normal solar arrays which require lesser servicing, the roofs do require the necessary servicing as they are exposed. Also removing faults in the roofs is harder than from normal arrays. 

Case Study : Use of Solar Roofing

Solar Roof Initiative, Berlin, Germany

The climate protection unit of Senatsverwaltung für Stadtentwicklung (senate department of urban development) created a project for construction of solar roofing on municipal buildings. The goals were mostly ecological-to create lesser amounts of Carbon Dioxide emissions in the city of Berlin.  Educational purposes for students were also a major goal behind the project. The project was for 80 municipal buildings to be made solar based. Private investors were roped in for making the installation investments. The projects and the building were made available to invest in.

In only a year, 25 private investors contributed in starting the project. First plants were installed as early as mid-2005.
Not only has the solar roofing being used successfully but also it has served the educational role that it was built for. A prime example of the result is the fact that not only are the students well averse with the solar roofing technology, but also the employees still related with the manufacturing services are virtuoso regarding the same.

Summing it all up..

Solar energy presents a formidable source of energy generation and is a source which is yet to be tapped efficiently. Solar roofing provides a major breakthrough as the solar technology can be implemented with ease in the omnipresent buildings. By tapping solar energy from the roofs, solar roofing helps in rendering the use of orthodox solar panels useless.

However there are various technical and cost related issues relating the Solar roofing technology. In only 5 years the list has narrowed down to a few issues which can also be overcome by promising technical breakthroughs.