Thursday, December 27, 2012

Building integrated solar panels set to boom over the next 5 years

Solar panels that can be integrated right into rooftops and the walls of buildings is a new market that is set to grow dramatically over the next five years, according to a new report from Pike Research, a part of Navigant. The report says that the energy capacity of solar panels that are built into the structures of buildings will grow from 400 MW in 2012 to 2.25 GW in 2017, or a five-fold increase worldwide.

The solar industry calls this technology "building-integrated photovoltaics" or BIPV. Some of this new capacity will come from thin film solar panels that will be able to be printed right onto building materials, like shingles, steel roof casing, and windows. A lot of companies have been gunning for this market, and many have been held back by the difficult solar production market in 2012. There are at least 53 companies working on this tech, says Pike.

Dow launched its solar shingle product about a year ago in Colorado and began selling them in California and Texas earlier this year. Miasole, which was sold to China's Hanergy in a firesale, had been working on BIPV, as had Arizona-based Global Solar Energy, which recently started layoffs and curbed manufacturing. Dozens of solar module makers went bankrupt or struggled in 2012, due to an oversupply and rock bottom prices.

But the BIPV market could provide a bright spot, says the Pike report. The value of the BIPV market could quadruple over the next five years from $606 million in 2012 to $2.4 billion in 2017. The market will also be encouraged by a rebound of home sales and construction.


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