Can Integrated Photovoltaics Boost The Construction Industry?

transulent photovoltaic glass

The Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) and Building Applied Photovoltaics (BAPV) market is expected to quadruple to $2.4 billion by 2017, according to a report released by clean technology group Pike Research.

A BIPV system consists of photovoltaic materials that are integrated into parts of the building envelope, such as the roof, skylights, or facades. BAPV, meanwhile, refers to BIPV systems that are integrated into existing buildings via retrofits.

Most are grid-connected, though they can be used in standalone and off-grid systems. By acting as both a building material and a power generator, BIPV systems can reduce both building and electricity costs.

The building industry in much of the world has faced severe challenges, with years of low housing starts and low demand for new builds. At the same time, the global solar industry has been subjected to severe reductions in financial subsidies in key markets.

Until recently, aesthetic and performance concerns limited the ability of architects to use BIPV technology in their building designs. This is changing, however, as constantly improving technology continues to make energy-efficient, flexible, and transparent solar materials more readily available.

Though BIPV systems have drawn scant attention until recently from the solar industry’s major players, Pike Research believes the technology is set to become one of the fastest-growing segments in the sector, with up to 4.6 GW worth of installations forecast through 2017.

transulent photovoltaic glass

“The emerging BIPV market, which straddles the building industry and the solar power industry, offers a new way to develop revenue streams for both parties,” says Pike research director Kerry-Ann Adamson.  “Solar suppliers have begun to partner with building and construction companies, as well as designers and architects, and have gained access to completely new markets.  At the same time, building companies have started to recognize new opportunities in green buildings and in retrofitting existing homes and commercial facilities.”

Pike Research believes the largest market for BIPV will be in Western Europe, though growth will be evenly distributed among Europe, North America, and Asia Pacific. Eastern Europe, South Africa, and Asia Pacific – especially Australia, China, India, Japan, Malaysia, and Thailand – are expected to produce new markets for the technology over the next five years.

by Justin McGar
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