BIPV predicted to be worth $11 billion by 2016

While at the outset this appears to represent a mushrooming industry, comparisons with predictions detailed in the company’s 2010 report show a more complex picture as to how the BIPV and construction industry are collectively responding to the post financial crisis recovery.

The previous report released by the Virginia-based firm on BIPV, published on July 22, 2010, predicted that the market would reach $8.2 billion in revenues by 2015. Lawrence Gasman of NanoMarkets explains to pv magazine that the 2011 version actually represents a revision to the pattern of growth predicted in 2010.

"We always fully revise our numbers in the BIPV space in the light of technology, corporate and economic changes. Our current projects for 2015 are $7.4 billion, which is a little less than last year. Some of this is certainly underlying conditions in the economy and construction industry. But we have also revised our pricing assumptions in our forecast model somewhat, which may have changed our aggregate numbers."

The latest report, "Building Integrated Photovoltaics Markets 2011", is the sixth annual BIPV report to be published by NanoMarkets. The research company now predicts that revenues for the BIPV products market will grow to reach over $11 billion, up from the $2 billion expected to be generated this year.

Installed capacity is also expected to significantly increase, from 343 MW in 2011 to over 3.6 GW in 2016.

NanoMarket’s analysis pays particular attention to the way Dow Chemical’s growing involvement in the BIPV market has granted it a "new credibility". No stranger to collaborative work with a variety of renowned institutions and firms from Global Solar Energy to the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Dow Chemical is proving to be a powerful experimental force within a market that is just taking off.

Contrasts

While BIPV is undoubtedly on an upward curve overall, the contrast between the two reports makes clear the fluctuating nature of the markets in the wake of the financial crisis. Yet, paradoxically, it is also these same fluctuations and pressure on the market which are causing the upward trend outlined in the report.

As NanoMarkets explains, this growth represents a newfound spirit of collaboration between construction firms and the solar industry, which looks to provide a powerhouse of profit over the next five years.

According to the report, "the building products industry continues to face challenges in construction starts and new builds while the solar industry is facing a reduction in the subsidies that have been crucial to the industry’s fortunes. The BIPV market offers both sets of suppliers a way of developing new revenue opportunities."

Building a new, collaborative future

This partnership is part of a three-fold response to the financial crisis by both industries. Firstly, solar cell companies that join with building products manufacturers can gain access to previously untapped markets while the construction industry benefits from a new opportunity to build green buildings.

Moreover, this union presents a whole range of new opportunities to retrofit existing homes and also commercial properties.

Secondly, NanoMarkets explains that this collaboration presents an opportunity for both parties to actually benefit from the increased cost of building materials and new regulatory climate.

As the report states: "Since BIPV allows the costs of the building fabric and photovoltaic system to be shared over the same infrastructure, NanoMarkets sees the BIPV market as having an increasingly attractive business case, even if subsidies for PV are reduced. Thus, BIPV may be an important step towards PV becoming a substantial industry that may eventually be self-sustaining without government subsidies."

Thirdly, companies from both sectors which are continuing to pool their expertise are creating a new series of second generation BIPV products, which NanoMarkets says will serve to add value to buildings and create new revenue streams.

Products that are specifically designed to integrate more fluidly with a building’s look will be the key to BIPV’s growing popularity, not to mention profit.

BIPV glass, for example, is expected to generate revenues of over $6.4 billion in 2016, compared to the $1.17 billion expected in 2011. Tiles and floating panels, meanwhile, should generate nearly $3 billion versus $691 million in 2011, says NanoMarkets.

Overall, flexible photovoltaic products are expected to reap just over $1.9 billion in comparison to the $153 million expected in 2011.

A winner for thin film

The 2011 report also specifies how a growth in BIPV will affect different areas of the photovoltaics market overall.

While NanoMarkets predicts that crystalline silicon (c-si) will represent the lion’s share of the market for the next ten years, thin film manufacturers should be preparing to get "very excited" about the opportunities present in the BIPV market, due to a flood of new CIGS-based BIPV products, which have recently passed regulatory tests and will be in distribution this year.

Specifically, the analysts predict that amorphous silicon (a-si) will surpass the $1 billion BIPV revenue mark in 2014, with CIGS following in 2015 and cadmium telluride in 2017.