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BIPV on the upswing

The building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) solar sector is on the upswing, according to GTM Research.

The expansion of BIPV is spurred on my maturing energy-efficiency codes, feed-in tariffs and supply-side product development. There is increasing demand for a new array of BIPV solar components, including shingles, curtain walls and flexible panels for roofs and windows.

GTM Research’s Building-Integrated Photovoltaics: An Emerging Market looks at the global solar BIPV landscape, and finds that there is a “pressing need for broader understanding of its {BIPV’s] scaling opportunities.”

Moving from its traditional markets such as France and Germany, solar BIPV is now beginning to push globally. “This push is exemplified by the commissioning of a 6.68 MW BIPV project, the world’s largest, in China in July,” GTM Research says.

Philip Drachman, a solar PV industry expert and the report’s author, says: “The BIPV solar market’s grasp is finally meeting its reach thanks to both significant cost reductions over the past two years and product development that is enabling seamless integration of PV into the building envelope.”

20 GW by 2013

Installed solar PV capacity on the whole is forecasted to reach over 20 GW by 2013 – equating to around US$60 billion in revenue – according to GTM Research. The cost of solar PV panels is projected to fall to US$1.20/W.

Many variables

The success of creating new solar BIPV markets will depend on factors such as:

  • Concerted efforts by players in the solar BIPV supply chain to work together towards the design and integration of solar into the building envelope;
  • Costs in $/W, as well as the building industry’s preferred metric of $/m2, of product and power availability;
  • Development of specific standards and building codes;
  • Availability of Federal and local incentives to ensure cost effectiveness;
  • Added value for consumers and architects; and
  • Ease of production and the scale at which a production plant becomes economically viable.

50% of electricity needs

The US Department of Energy (DoE) has, according to GTM Research, predicted that solar BIPV products deployed on roofs and facades of commercial buildings and private homes could generate up to 50% of the USA’s electricity needs.

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