Over $110 Million dollars in Alternative Energy permits were pulled in one single week at the start of August for Orange County alone. Solar power happens to be one of the hottest topics for home and commercial building owners today. So much that innovation guru’s like Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, would buy out businesses like Solar City.

The vast majority of these solar projects are referred to as Building Applied Photovoltaics. We see them popping up everywhere; the obstructive black panels sitting on tile roofs facing as south as possible. Take that concept one step further and you get Building Integrated Photovoltaic or BIPV, and Costa Mesa manufacturer SKYCO Skylights is making it their mission to bring more viability to these hidden power gems.   

BIPV is solar power technology integrated into the actual building’s features. For example, in July Apple unveiled their newest flagship store in Union Square. To the lay person walking the roof they would think they are walking on normal roofing tiles. SKYCO Skylights was able to integrate the roofing structure with photovoltaic tiles. These tiles are so strong; Apple could feasibly land a helicopter on the roof without blemishing the solar tiles.   

“When Apple came to us with this project we were excited to work with them given their reputation for innovation,” explained SKYCO Skylights CEO, Ryan Marshall. “From day one we have been committed to creating the most innovative daylighting products.”   

The highest performing system is a solar skylight. The glass in a skylight is designed to collect anywhere from 30-70 percent of the sunlight for power generation, the remainder of sunlight, not converted to power, is visible light passing through the skylight. They look and act just like a tinted skylight.   

By swapping traditional glass with photovoltaic glass, building owners are able to capitalize on the 30% federal credits (plus various State credits). In the end, the net investment is equal or less than the investment in a traditional skylight, except BIPV skylights will generate power ultimately adding to ROI.   

“With the tax incentives and power consumption savings, it takes a great concept like a skylight and turns it into an even more high performance structure,” comments Paul Simony, VP of Sales at SKYCO Skylights and industry leading consultant on building integrated photovoltaics. “We see a lot of applications for the photovoltaic glass, skylights being one of them. The technology has been around for some time now, but with power rates and incentives it is now a serious option for saving money.”   

There are several reasons why brands like Apple are adopting this technology. Apple has committed to building all its new retail stores with 100 percent renewable energy. The challenge for them is maintaining the architectural aesthetics we’ve all come to expect in an Apple building. BIPV helps Apple achieve their power goals while enhancing the building’s appearance. The brand-ability behind this innovative technology is an added plus.   

Manufacturers like, SKYCO Skylights, have invested significant time and resources to develop and finely tune BIPV systems. Finally, building owners have another option instead of the cumbersome black solar panels.