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Nanotechnology Report

Building Integrated Photovoltaics: Opportunities 2010

Category: Transport, Energy & Environment Published: Jul 2010 View Contents
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Innovative Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) products and solutions provide a strategy for the PV industry to compete in an increasingly crowded marketplace. By comparison with standard PV products, BIPV products provide two key benefits to customers: improved aesthetics and cost benefits when the total cost of a building is taken into consideration. From the manufacturers perspective they also add the ability to strongly distinguish their products in a marketplace in which solar panels are rapidly becoming commodities imported from low-cost manufacturing plants.

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While early adopters of PV have remained undisturbed by the aesthetics of large panels being attached to roofs, it is likely that widespread adoption of PV will run into aesthetics barriers going forward. In order to address a larger market, PV manufacturers will find that PV needs to be more unobtrusive and there are now many options for doing so, including forming an entire roof out of BIPV tiles, interlacing BIPV slates or shingles with conventional ones, and incorporating PV into architectural glass. These kinds of approaches can make BIPV products more continuous and complementary to the conventional building skin materials and structures when compared to conventional solar panels mounted on a roof.

However, the business case for BIPV is not based entirely on the idea that it will make next generation solar panels prettier than the current generation. It also promises an improvement in the cost of building structures incorporating PV. This will be achieved by shifting the cost of photovoltaic systems from isolated panel, installation, and balance-of-system costs to more of a shared cost structure; one that is split between the power-generating system and the architectural system.

By incorporating PV modules into building materials—and forming dual- or multi-purpose products that serve building skin functions as well as power generating ones—BIPV products have the potential to reduce costs. Because conventional roofing products, cladding, etc. are not needed when the BIPV products serve those functions considerable savings are possible.

This report provides an opportunity analysis for BIPV over the next eight years, based on the aesthetic and cost benefits discussed above. We also examine how manufacturers in the PV space can leverage these benefits to distinguish themselves in the marketplace. These opportunities are explored in terms of the three major classes of BIPV products that we have identified and defined: rigid BIPV products, semitransparent BIPV products, and flexible BIPV products.

This report will be It is essential reading for both PV suppliers—whether currently supplying BIPV or not—as well as building materials suppliers, PV systems integrators, architects and firms in the construction industry.