True building-integrated photovoltaics about to take-off, says n-tech Research

August 05, 2015 // By Julien Happich
In its latest report, industry analyst firm n-tech Research predicts the total market for building-integrated solar photovoltaic (BIPV) systems will triple from about USD 3 billion in 2015 to over USD 9 billion in 2019, and surge to USD 26 billion by 2022, as more truly "integrated" BIPV products emerge that are monolithically integrated and multifunctional.

The report identifies where money will be made in the BIPV space. Now that the great PV shakeout is over, technological progress is happening again, and PV subsidies are beginning to disappear.

The research firm illustrates how BIPV products can be classified based on intelligence and functionality, how demand patterns have changed, and how these are changing marketing requirements and strategies. Eight-year market forecasts in both volume and value terms detail the breakouts by type of BIPV product, end-market regions, type of buildings, etc.

What comes out of the report is that the long-anticipated evolution of BIPV is in truly monolithically integrated PV materials in which there is no clear distinction between the energy and roofing subsystems.

Within this transition comes a new set of economic rules and guidelines, in which n-tech Research analysts see huge cost-saving opportunities. Primary among them is a shift in supply-chain thinking to create new BIPV business ecosystems that align PV and construction product firms (e.g. glass companies) with flatter and wider networks of local and regional partners.

Aesthetically pleasing and smart

Educating architects and installers is still very much needed so they appreciate that there is "life after rooftop PV racking." Building a strong network of downstream partners, ones who understand the value and messaging around BIPV, are as crucial today as ever.

An alternative straight-to-channel strategy leaves the architect out of the picture, surrendering some of BIPV's higher value to systems integrators, construction firms, installers and retailers, to encourage their buy-in. Not everyone will be able to go this route, however.

n-tech Research believes that BIPV's best chance to take off commercially is for vendors to emphasize aesthetics, and even the "smarts" of BIPV, and not just energy efficiency. This will allow them to tap substantial addressable markets, especially in the US, Germany, Japan and China, where the demand for solar panels is already large.

The market research firm sees BIPV roofing as