The Future of Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPVs)
California recently passed the 100% clean energy act. It is a bold step to take that clearly says they want their population to generate the power they use – at least in part. California is not alone; Legislation is used in many jurisdictions to reduce the impact we all have on the climate. Historically, governments have used feed in tariffs to support renewable energy and today you can see tax credits and grants being offered in several residential markets. The state of California has gone a step further, approving legislation mandating rooftop solar when a new home is built.
Legislation can create challenging market dynamics. As solar integration becomes mandated, homebuilders will face additional new operational steps in construction and will need to build the incremental costs into their selling prices. Homeowners will in turn need to defray these costs over the life of the mortgage. Home Owner Associations (HOAs) will face potential maintenance and upkeep costs on the installed equipment. Even local utility providers are likely to be impacted as they manage increasing complexity in the grid. This is going to be difficult, but beneficial.
How BIPVs, like the Ergosun Integrated Solar Roof Tile, will play a role in this future is somewhat unpredictable. However, there are several reasons to believe that BIPV will thrive in a future where solar power is legislated:
When solar is integrated with existing building materials it can be installed during a builder’s normal work flow. There is then no need to build to a certain point and wait for the solar contractor to arrive and complete the solar install before resuming further construction. With builders that are building large developments more efficient work flow is critical.
Builders do not want to pierce the building envelope post construction since doing so compromises weatherability and impacts warranties. Conventional solar requires drilling through the roof post construction, whereas BIPVs do not.
The aesthetics criteria of most HOAs are easier to achieve with BIPVs.
When building multi-family dwellings there is often a lack of available roof space to deliver the solar target per resident or unit. Builders need to look more broadly for opportunities to add renewable energy.
As scales grow, the cost difference between conventional solar and BIPV will shrink.
BIPVs can help solve many of the challenges that builders will face as they are legislated to integrate solar power into their buildings. Over time, the combination of increasing renewables legislation and better integration of solar products into existing building materials will lower the cost of solar power and continue to make it more attractive.