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Positive outlook for BIPV
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Futuristic: The training centre of inverter manufacturer SMA completely supplies itself with power. Large solar windows convert light into electricity. (SMA)
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The search for flexible and light semiconductors is running at full speed. Companies need them for their solar components. (Odersun)
The times when virtually every solar company presented its own roof-integrated module are gone. Battery and energy management systems have superseded building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) as the “must have” of suppliers. But the technology has not vanished into thin air. “Building integration will still play an important role,” says Stefan Hansen from US thin-film specialists Nanosolar. “Solar cells require less and less material and are becoming increasingly lighter – for this reason, they can be used very successfully as power-generating windows and facades.”
Analysts share this optimistic assessment. According to a study by US market research company Pike Research, about five gigawatts of BIPV capacity will be additionally installed throughout the world by 2017. Up to now, BIPV projects have not been more than 100 megawatt anywhere in the world. “Building integration will be one of the fastest growing segments of the solar industry,” estimates Pike Research analyst Kerry-Ann Adamson. The demand for integrable solar technology will be the greatest in the Asia-Pacific region, Europe and North America. On one hand, architects are increasingly casting aside their reservations about BIPV – for designers, they have always been deemed too inflexible and too inefficient. On the other hand, the building sector in the USA is regaining its momentum. “As a result, solar suppliers have access to completely new markets, which have been closed to them until now,” says Adamson.