European BIPV projects grow – but legislation is still urgently needed
A recent report has shown that the European Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) market in last year was estimated at €143 million with a total installed capacity of 25.7 MW for the commercial, residential, industrial and public markets combined.
Currently, there is substantial amount of interest in this market due to its high year on year growth, as well as an increasing number of countries which now have legislation supporting BIPV technology. However, the key to understanding BIPV market hot spots is pinpointing the countries that have passed BIPV-friendly legislation. It is no secret that the countries with this kind of legislation have seen the most growth.
Led by Germany, and followed by Italy, France and Spain, these markets in particular are ripe for investment. The link between geographic hotspots and legislation is noted by Frost & Sullivan Akhil Sivanandan, Research Analyst, who says: “The common factor to all the best regions for investment in BIPV has been the level of legislative support. These regions have high levels of legislative support for BIPV, usually through feed-in tariffs, although easy availability of loans, solar PV ordinances and other such supportive legislations are also important to grow and sustain the market. Manufacturers have traditionally gravitated towards such regions.”
For construction managers, most of whom share a vision for environmentally improved buildings, the practicalities of integrating innovative green products such as BIPV can considerably increase project complexity, and when things get complicated, so do costs. The irony is that premium exterior cladding systems, for example, cost nearly as much as or even more than building integrated photovoltaics – in layman’s terms a solar electric skin – and they seldom undergo a cost/return-on-investment analysis prior to being specified, while in the past, solar electricity has been subject to unrealistic short-term payback demands. When BIPV is incorporated into the design of a building, a cashflow stream is provided for decades to come, while a facade constructed from premium building materials may only deliver prestige.