Numerical investigation of the energy saving potential of a semi-transparent photovoltaic double-skin facade in a cool-summer Mediterranean climate

Jinqing Peng, Dragan C. Curcija, Lin Lu, Stephen E. Selkowitz, Hongxing Yang, Weilong Zhang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

141 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents the annual overall energy performance and energy-saving potential of a ventilated photovoltaic double-skin facade (PV-DSF) in a cool-summer Mediterranean climate zone. A numerical simulation model based on EnergyPlus was utilized to simulate the PV-DSF overall energy performance, simultaneously taking into account thermal power and daylight. Based on numerical model, sensitivity analyses about air gap width and ventilation modes have been lead in Berkeley (California) with the aim to optimize unit's structure design and operational strategy of PV-DSF. Via simulation, the overall energy performance including thermal, power and daylighting of the optimized PV-DSF was evaluated using the typical meteorological year (TMY) weather data. It was found that per unit area of the proposed PV-DSF was able to generate about 65 kW h electricity yearly. If high efficiency cadmium telluride (CdTe) semi-transparent PV modules are adopted, the annual energy output could be even doubled. The PV-DSF studied, also featured good thermal and daylighting performances. The PV-DSF can effectively block solar radiation while still providing considerable daylighting illuminance. Due simply to excellent overall energy performance, a PV-DSF at Berkeley can reduce net electricity use by about 50% compared with other commonly used glazing systems. Efficiency improvements of semi-transparent PV modules would further increase the energy saving potential of a PV-DSF and thus making this technology more promising.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-356
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Energy
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016


  • Building energy use
  • Building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV)
  • Double-skin facade
  • Energy saving potential
  • Semi-transparent thin-film photovoltaic (STPV)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Building and Construction
  • Energy(all)
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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