Solar’s Next Step: Build It In, Don’t Bolt It On

solar energy manageThe goal of integrating solar power into buildings instead of bolting the technology on afterwards has taken a step forward with the announcement that Tesla and Panasonic have expanded their existing relationship to include manufacture of Tesla’s solar roof products. The work will be done at Tesla’s Buffalo, NY, facility.

Tesla’s acquisition of SolarCity has given a jump start to the building-integrated photovoltaics (BIVP) sector. As the name implies, BIVP is the use inclusion of solar power generating elements in the construction or repair of a structure.

While the overall category is growing, one company is stepping away. First, the good news for the industry segment. Grand View Research says that the category (along with the Building integrated Organic Photovoltaic – BIOPV – subcategory) is expected to reach $31.14 billion in 2024. Roofs, the study said, will account for 61 percent of the revenue.

It is a growth area, according to the report:

The demand for the product has stemmed from the increased adoption of the integrated roofs, walls and windows owing to superior aesthetic properties. In addition, the industry has witnessed increased efforts towards the research & development activities leading to the development of magnetic nanoparticles incorporated solar cells, leading to an enhanced efficiency of the overall installation.

Research from Technavio also foresees growth. The firm sees compound annual growth rate of just under 10 percent from next year to 2021. For the period from 2016 to 2021, the commercial sector’s use of BIVP will be 8.37 percent, residential will be 11.01 percent and industrial will be 11.64 percent. In 2016, growth in the commercial sector will be end up at 53.8 percent, residential will be 26.9 percent and industrial will be 19.3 percent.

There is more positive than negative in the BIVP segment. But not everything is golden: pv magazine USA reported that Dow Chemical, which promised a solar shingle five years ago, has exited the business.

Energy managers should pay close attention to BIPV. Building elements wear down and must be replaced. The effort to move solar into the core of the facility – on the roof, through the use of windows that generate solar power or other strategies – should be methodical and well planned.

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