Article Date: 11/28/2012

Building-integrated Photovoltaics Expected to Play a Larger Role in Making Buildings Green

By Steve Rizer


Solar energy is expected to play a larger role in making buildings green in the not-too-distant future. Nanomarkets LC believes the worldwide market for building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) will skyrocket from approximately $2.1 billion now to roughly $7.5 billion by 2015. “Much of this growth will come at the expense of conventional solar panels as the better economics and aesthetics of BIPV make their impact on end users,” according to the Glen Allen, Va.-based firm, which recently published its estimates in a report entitled “Building-Integrated Photovoltaics Markets -- 2012.”


The report provides what the firm called a “highly granular” eight-year forecast of the worldwide BIPV market with breakouts for PV roofing overlays, BIPV tiles and shingles, wall-attached BIPV, BIPV siding, BIPV curtain walls, BIPV/window hybrids, and futuristic monolithically integrated BIPV products. The projections are presented in both value (millions of U.S. dollars) and volume (megawatts and area covered). Additional breakouts are provided for types of buildings in which BIPV is installed (residential, commercial, industrial, etc.), whether the BIPV installation is a retrofit or a new build, and the type of absorber material used. In addition, the report projects the nations and regions that will generate the most BIPV revenues.


The market for BIPV roofing products will reach $2.5 billion by 2015, a four-fold increase in revenues compared to this year’s level, Nanomarkets predicted. “But … there will be a profound change in how the BIPV revenues are generated over this relatively short period. Today, almost 80 percent of the dollars from BIPV roofing comes from simple BIPV overlay products. By 2015, we foresee that specialized BIPV tiles and shingles will have become widely available, offering much better value propositions than any current BIPV products. As a result, these BIPV tiles and shingles will account for 60 percent of BIPV roofing product revenues.”


“[Regarding the cost of “real BIPV”/product-integrated PV/non-building-applied PV,] you’re really talking about the cost of the tile plus the cost of PV itself; that can often be quite expensive right now,” Lawrence Gasman, a principal analyst for Nanomarkets, told ConstructionPro Week. “The hope, though, is that adding PV with a truly integrated product would be no more than 5 percent, [perhaps] 2 percent more than using regular tile. The other thing you’ve got to take into consideration is the building material itself. It is a very considerable part of the cost. So, if you’re looking at a curtain wall, an atrium wall that uses architectural glass, well, architectural glass is a very expensive product.”


However, Gasman emphasized that real BIPV “has some ways to go” before it enters the mainstream. “Five years from now, if you say to a randomly chosen architect or construction guy, ‘I want to build my building with [real BIPV],’ he might say, ‘We don’t do it,’ or he might say, ‘You’re crazy,’ but he’d know what you’re talking about, and if you wanted some kind of roofing product that showed some general level of integration between the building product and PV, [then] you could buy that.”


Chapter titles in the report include the following: “Forecasting Assumptions and Methodology;” “Eight-Year Forecasts of BIPV Products by Type;” “Eight-Year Forecasts of BIPV Products by End User Markets;” and “Eight-Year Forecasts of BIPV Products by Major Materials Used.” Additional details about the report are available at:



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