British solar company Solarcentury has launched a new building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) product to installers that it believes will have mass-market appeal thanks to good aesthetics and price parity with traditional solar modules.
The Sunstation is a BIPV solar roof system that is the culmination of Solarcenturys ten years experience working with the BIPV sector. The company enlisted the input and feedback of engineers, installers and architects to develop a solar solution that it feels is unmatched in the market place.
Created as a sleek, low-slung black system, the Sunstation is intended to be an inconspicuous, aesthetically appealing addition to a homeowners roof, sitting flush with the roof and quick and easy to install. Comprised of seven elements and no sub-frame, the Sunstation clicks together with very little fuss, meaning installation can be completed in one day.
"We have pioneered BIPV since the early days of solar," said Solarcentury CEO Frans van den Heuvel. "In 2005 we launched C21e, our range of BIPV solar tiles and slates that has already won numerous awards, including the Queens award for Innovation.
"Now, ten years on, and with huge technological improvements as the BIPV market matures, Sunstation sets the bar for what installers and consumers can expect from roof solar systems."
Solarcenturys press release claims that the system is comparable in price to traditional on-roof PV arrays thanks to its low part count (an average Sunstation has around half the components as a typical solar system) and the fact that it is developed on the main PV factory line rather than pieced together by hand.
"Our research tells us that 90% of installers believe there will be considerably more adoption of BIPV if the price matches on-roof systems," said Solarcentury head of product development Jon Sturgeon. "We also know that homeowners have always wanted a solar option that preserves the look of their roof.
"Without the premium price tags of other BIPV products, Sunstation is ready for mass-market adoption."
Growth of the BIPV market, both in the U.K. and globally, has been slower than perhaps expected a few years ago, but a report put out in 2014 projects the market to reach 1.15 GW worldwide by 2019. Currently, Europe has the greatest level of BIPV penetration, followed by North America, while the Asia region has been a little slower on the uptake.