There is a widespread consensus that energy efficiency of buildings is an essential component of sustainable development and several kinds of renewable energy technologies have been widely used to achieve this sustainable goal. As a rapidly developing country, China’s manufacturing industry still occupies a prominent position, with a large number of industrial buildings that are also a crucial part of urban planning. Compared with multi-story and high-rise commercial buildings, large industrial sheds have a much more usable roof area, where rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems are increasingly used. However, due to the small structural margins of the lightweight steel-structured (LSS) industrial buildings and the large initial investment of the thin-film PV system, few case studies are available for this kind of industrial buildings. In this research, three representative cities in China, with varying levels of solar radiation availability, are selected as typical external design factors. Taking a typical LSS industrial building with an added thin-film rooftop PV system as an example, a life-cycle cost-benefit analysis is conducted from environmental and economic aspects. The results of the analysis demonstrate the effectiveness of the rooftop thin-film PV system as a means to increase the energy efficiency of the LSS industrial buildings.
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