PV spurs switch to on-site power

Building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) is on track for ‘significant growth’ in on-site power, where it works well with other distributed power technologies, says Pike Research analyst Dexter Gauntlett.

In a recent study – Building Integrated Photovoltaics – Pike Research, part of the Navigant Group, forecasts that BIPV and building applied photovoltaics (BAPV) capacity will grow from only 400 MW in 2012 up to 2250 MW in 2017.

BIPV

Solar PV can also fit well with other technologies to take buildings off the grid to cut costs and enhance security of supply, co-author Gauntlett told COSPP.

‘The attributes of solar PV technology (including BIPV) make it a good candidate for being integrated with other technologies, depending on the requirements of the application,’ he said.

Solar power’s intermittency could necessitate its integration with baseload technologies for users such as manufacturers in areas subject to blackouts.

‘Other distributed technologies such as fuel cells could provide that baseload power in this example – but it is likely going to be significantly more expensive.’

The potential of BIPV and BAPV could also prompt interest from mainstream solar manufacturers, he added.

Dexter Gauntlett

‘You could see some interesting experimental partnerships between major construction/architecture firms and solar manufacturers in the next few years,’ he said.

But Guantlett sees a recent forecast that distributed solar could meet 10% of US power demand by 2022 as optimistic.

‘It would require increased investment and more supportive policies for rooftop solar PV to reach that target,’ he told COSPP.

While Gauntlett expects ‘significant growth in BIPV and BAPV in on-site generation’, that reflects ‘a low starting point’, he added. ‘It will continue to be a niche market for the next five years’.

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