Building Integrated Photovoltaics: Moving beyond showcase projects

New Building Norms Can Drive BIPV Mainstream, with 6.6 GW Market in 2021

Building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) can become mainstream with an estimated 6.6 GW installed in 2021 as the European Commission’s Net-Zero Energy Buildings (NZEBs) standards lead to likely widespread adoption across the continent, according to a report from Lux Research.

In the most likely scenario, BIPV will move beyond its aesthetic niche sooner – by 2016 it will climb to over 1 GW with an estimated $6 billion market in that year. But it has the even greater potential to then rise more than six-fold to 6.6 GW in 2021, as European nations scramble to meet norms that mandate new buildings to be NZEBs by 2020.

“Over the past five years, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified and NZEBs, which mandate on-site electricity generation – a trend that is likely to drive the adoption of BIPV,” said Aditya Ranade, a Lux Research Analyst and the lead author of the report titled, “Building Integrated Photovoltaics: Moving Beyond Showcase Projects.”

“Combining energy efficiency and energy generation features is enabling installers to access multiple incentives such as peak-demand reduction and solar investment tax credit, thereby resulting in broader cost savings,” he added.

Lux Research analysts examined the technological and commercial status of BIPV in light of high costs, stringent specification requirements, limited financial incentives and the early developmental stage of thin-film solar modules. Among Lux Research’s other key conclusions:

  • European dominance likely to grow. BIPV installations in Europe will be 105 MW in 2011 thanks to BIPV-specific feed-in tariff (FIT) rates in France and Switzerland. The U.S. follows closely at 103 MW due to the large number of LEED-certified buildings in the commercial sector, while Asia lags both with only 12 MW. In 2013, Europe will overtake the U.S. in installed capacity and skyrocket by 2016 to an 85% market share, driven by NZEB norms.
  • BIPV needs to win on cost of electricity. Government incentives are uncertain and standards are variable, but the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) produced by a BIPV installation is a value developers can hang their hat on. Thus, LCOE will help determine winning applications. Roofing in California, for instance, can provide an LCOE from $0.13/kWh to $0.15/kWh, while siding in Germany is over $1/kWh.
  • Crystalline silicon, CIGS, or CdTe leads, depending on the application. Multicrystalline silicon technology offers the best LCOE for roofing, with copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) thin film not far behind. For façades, cadmium telluride (CdTe) thin film is the obvious winner, while for commercial building siding, CIGS beats out its only major competitor, amorphous silicon (a-Si) in all geographies.

The report titled, “Building Integrated Photovoltaics: Moving Beyond Showcase Projects” is part of the Lux Research Solar Systems Intelligence and the Lux Research Green Buildings Intelligence services.


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