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Nanotechnology Report

The Business Case for Building Integrated Photovoltaics

Category: Transport, Energy & Environment Published: Jan 2011 View Contents
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Electronic copies include a five user licence. Contact andrew.stewart@nano.org.uk for more information.

As the conventional solar panels business becomes increasingly commoditized, the solar panel industry is seeking out new ways to add value to their products. Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) represents one strategy for achieving this.

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In the past, the business case for photovoltaics has been made entirely on the basis of return on investment, with the primary performance factor at the solar panel level being efficiency. From a strategic perspective, what BIPV brings to the table is a range of new ways that will enable solar panel makers to distinguish their products in the marketplace to a degree that has not been possible up to now. BIPV also cuts through the boundaries that have existed between building materials and solar panels, thereby both expanding the solar panel market and creating the potential for novel hybrid products that are both solar energy sources and cladding, roofing, windows, etc. These hybrids both radically change the cost models for solar and also create the need to rethink the value proposition that solar panels of the BIPV kind can bring to the table. In particular, for first time BIPV will enable PV panels that will be judged on their architectural merit and not just on functionality.

In light of the impact that BIPV promises to have on the solar market we believe that the time is right for a serious analysis of the business cases that are appropriate to BIPV. In this report we provide a thorough examination of the key factors that prove out BIPV as a viable product offering and provide readers with a clear understanding of how manufacturers can assign value to the aesthetics of solutions, the particular selling points of specific markets and how they can best justify their products to the various customer segments.

This analysis draws on both a long experience of analyzing the PV industry and the strategies the firms in the BIPV market. It will provide valuable insight to firms currently active in the BIPV sector, those planning to enter it, and the investors who back them.

Please view our table of contents to see the full spectrum of issues addressed in the report.