Growing Need for Clean Energy Alternatives Makes Photovoltaics (PVs) Attractive
A promising new technology in the field of solar industry, building integrated photovoltaics (BIPVs) are the solar power generating building products or systems that are seamlessly integrated into the building envelope, replacing conventional building materials. Serving a dual purpose, the system (integral component of the building skin) converts solar energy into electricity, simultaneously providing the building envelope functions such as weather protection (waterproofing, sun protection), thermal insulation, noise protection, daylight illumination, and safety.
PV is a truly elegant means of free on-site clean energy production directly from the sun without the concerns regarding energy supply or environmental harm. These solid-state devices tend to generate electricity in the most efficient manner without any transmission losses. The benefits also include zero pollution, and zero depletion of materials, which ultimately contribute towards a more sustainable future by displacing the need for fossil fuels. The solar energy landscape is advancing rapidly and expanding to redefine the future of energy space. With the progress of renewable energy, the demand for building integrated photovoltaic systems will also see a measurable rise.
In general, there are three main application areas of BIPVs - roofs (e.g., shingles, tiles, skylights), façades (e.g., cladding, curtain walls, windows), and externally integrated systems (e.g., balcony railings, shading systems). The key types of BIPVs include in-roof solar panels, complete solar roof, solar tiles, thin film solar, solar glass, solar facades, coloured panels, solar shading, solar carports, and flexible solar panels.
The Future is Green
Green roofing contributes to energy saving, indoor energy control, and reduced air pollution. In the upcoming years, green roofing will see a notable increase in popularity, thus contributing towards the growth of the building integrated photovoltaics market. BIPV is the only building material that has a return on investment (ROI). Furthermore, the diverse use of BIPV systems opens many opportunities for architects and building designers to enhance the visual appearance of buildings, organically blended into the urban environment. Most importantly, building owners benefit from reduced electricity bills and a boosted goodwill as a brand recognised for adopting an innovative green approach. A whole new vernacular of solar electric architecture is beginning to emerge.
Turning Roofs and Façades into Energy-generating Assets Will be a Trend
With the number of working spaces increasing rapidly and renewable energy alternatives gaining preference in the commercial spaces like hospitals, airports, and other public spaces, there are strong indications of the implementation of solar roofing becoming a mandatory element of commercial buildings in the near future. BIPV systems can be installed during the construction phase of a building or deployed in the course of a retrofit of an existing building when one of the envelope components needs to be replaced. The built environment allows for multiple alternatives of BIPV integration. PV specialists and innovative designers in the key markets like Europe, Japan, and the U.S. are now exploring creative ways of incorporating solar electricity into their work areas, thereby fostering the market prospects of building integrated photovoltaics.
BIPV Market Outlook
As solar inventions and futuristic technologies are entering the mainstream energy sector, the solar market is likely to beget big investments, and efficient and innovative photovoltaics will further support the market growth. Various governments offer assistance and promotion policies for PV market growth; financial and economic advantages are extended. With the federal and state government financial incentives, tax credits, and other subsidiary programmes, solar roofing becomes even more beneficial, and cost-effective.
Currently, BIPV remains a high-end market (currently in a niche market of ~1% of the global photovoltaics market), typically being implemented exclusively in flagship buildings. The importance of BIPV in architecture will continue to increase and the future looks bright. Copenhagen International School (KROMATIX’s signature reference project) is being held up as the gold standard for BIPV implementation. The rest of the world is after the new founded opportunity to drive the PV up the wall.
However, the industry faces some significant challenges too, including greater planning effort due to interfaces between trades and different technical regulations, lack of skilled workforce required for installation and maintenance, and higher costs due to small production series - often with a low degree of automation. Lack of standardisation is another longstanding challenge to market growth - European countries have the European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) in common. The implementation of the EPBD differs per country, with different support schemes in effect. Also, harmonisation of building codes hampers BIPV development.
Leading BIPV Suppliers in Global Market
Some of the leading market players include Panasonic Solar, SunPower Corporation, Sharp Solar, Manz AG., and Onyx Solar Group LLC. HyET Solar produces lightweight thin film solar cells based on amorphous silicon technology using a roll-to-roll manufacturing process, PolySolar offers amorphous silicon thin film glass, and SmartEnergy Renewables covers fully integrated BIPV solutions. Other active players in the global BIPV market include Tesla Inc., Canadian Solar Inc., Dyesol Ltd., Novergy Energy Solutions Pvt. Ltd., NanoPV Solar Inc., and Targray. Swiss Inso and Acomet Solar have teamed up to offer coloured solar panels based on Swiss-patented KromatixTM technology.