Solarcentury rolls out BIPV solution to UK market


U.K. solar developer Solarcentury has today launched its new Sunstation building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) module to the British market – a product that was designed in concert with U.K. homeowners who demanded greater aesthetics for their properties.

The Sunstation comes ten years after Solarcentury first developed its C21e solar tiles and slates, and the company claims this new BIPV product could help facilitate a major shift in the U.K. market’s solar rooftop industry.

In developing the product, Solarcentury conducted a survey of British homeowners to ascertain what they wanted from their properties. The survey found that 81% of homeowners wanted their homes to be more eco-friendly, with 96% stating that they wanted to save money on their energy bills.

Of the more solar-specific questions, some 58% of respondents remarked that standard on-roof solar panels are too unattractive to countenance, with 86% stating that any additions to their rooftops would have to "look stylish". A further two-thirds of those surveyed said that the solar panels would have to be less visible than they currently are if they were to consider them, with 32% of the opinion that what their neighbors think of their new additions was important.

Armed with this data, the company developed the Sunstation to meet those aesthetic concerns and, crucially for Solarcentury, retail at the same price as ordinary solar panels.

"It’s always been our mission to make solar energy accessible for all," said Frans van den Heuvel, Solarcentury’s CEO. "It is ten years since we launched our last range of solar tiles and slates that are fitted into the roof. Since then we’ve poured our insights into developing a home solar system that not only looks great – so people will want it on their roofs – but is also far more affordable than other options on the market, meaning even more people can switch on to solar."

In the U.K., the current feed-in tariff (FIT) makes solar a surer investment that typical saving plans, offering around a 10% tax-free return annually. The U.K. FIT degresses at a set rate every three months, but is locked in at the rate set at the time of a solar purchase for 20 years.

Recent changes to the U.K.’s solar subsidy scheme at large scale (with the replacement of the renewable obligation certificate by the Contracts for Difference scheme attracting criticism) have been introduced to try to steer more private investment into the residential and commercial rooftop sectors. As a result, leading solar developers and companies operating in the U.K. have begun stepping up their efforts to make solar a more attractive option for U.K. homeowners.