BIPV to add 4.6 GW of new capacity by 2017

In its latest BIPV report, Pike Research claims that on the back of building industry challenges and reduced solar subsidy support, BIPV and BAPV (building applied photovoltaics) represent new ways to generate revenue for both industries.

"Solar suppliers have begun to partner with building and construction companies, as well as designers and architects. In doing so, they have gained access to completely new markets. The building companies have also started to benefit and see new opportunities in green buildings and in retrofitting existing residential homes and commercial entities," write the report’s authors.

Pike Research goes on to say that BIPV is set to become the fastest growing solar industry segment. Currently, Western Europe is said to represent the largest BIPV product market. However, Eastern Europe, Asia Pacific – specifically, Australia, China, India, Japan, Malaysia and Thailand – Latin America and South Africa have been identified by the company as "notable new markets". The U.S. is also said to be paying more attention to the fledgling industry.

Furthermore, it says that on the back of governmental legislation and regulations, building integrated renewable energy market revenues will increase from around US$558 million in 2011, to $2.5 million in 2017. "Much of this growth will take place in urban areas with medium- and high-rise buildings with only a limited amount of rooftop space availability," state the authors.

Next year, the BIPV market is expected to grow following a rebound from the current market conditions, dubbed the "great solar depression" by Pike Research, and the expected completion of several projects, including:

  • Pilkington North America and Dyesol’s partnership, DyeTec Solar, which will see Dyesol’s DSC coating will be added to Pilkington’s TEC series of transparent conductive oxide (TCO)-coated float glass;
  • Heliatek’s planned production start of its small molecule-based organic photovoltaic (OPV) modules in a roll-to-roll process, which aims to see the OPV modules integrated directly into concrete façade blocks;
  • Solantro Semiconductor’s development of an integrated circuit-based nano-inverter BIPV Product, which is expected to launch in early 2013. "It will provide a new way of interconnecting thin-film and c-Si BIPV modules using nano-inverters to enable an alternating current (AC) grid approach between them, similar to what Enphase achieved with micro-inverters," says Pike Research; and
  • Tata Steel, which is expected by Pike Research to be "pivotal" in the development of its new DSC-coated steel roofing.

"Energy-efficient, flexible, and transparent solar materials, which offer superior vertical performance and subtle red, green, or blue (RGB) color options, are beginning to emerge. With these features, BIPV will no longer be confined to spandrel or overhead applications. Rather, the entire building envelope will be able to put it to use, allowing the structure to produce its own power and feed additional power into the grid system," continue the authors.

In terms of market players, the research company believes the following are the ones to watch this year:

  • Dow Solar with its Powerhouse CIGS-based solar tiles;
  • PowerFilm, which is expected to launch amorphous silicon (a-Si)-based products for the architectural fabric market; and
  • Pythagoras Solar, which has developed SunGuard Photovoltaic Glass Units (PVGUs).