The Aesthetic and Cost Promise of BIPV
Published: February 17, 2012 Category: Advanced Materials Renewable Energy

Bottom Lines on BIPV Glass

The ultimate goal for any kind of BIPV from an economic perspective is that it can lower the total cost of construction, because it is less expensive than the total cost of conventional building products and conventional PV.  This is no less true of BIPV glass than it is of BIPV roofing or siding.

It is probably fair to say that this kind of economic calculation has not yet been proven, which may be why marketing for BIPV products, often puts so much emphasis on aesthetics rather than economics.  For the BIPV market to establish itself, in the next few years we are going to need to see proof that this kind of economics can be established for BIPV.  If costs for BIPV begin to reach the point where BIPV products can be positioned as part of a standard portfolio of high-end building materials, then we are talking about an entirely different value proposition for BIPV than currently exists and there is a chance that the demand for BIPV will explode.

Again, the above applies to all BIPV products, not just to BIPV glass.  But some special factors play into the scenario for BIPV glass.  These relate to the very high cost of the architectural glass around which BIPV glass panels are built:

·       Because the cost of architectural glass so high, the economics of BIPV glass may become more favorable quicker than in other parts of the BIPV market.  In other words, the additional cost of adding PV to architectural glass may be relatively modest compared with (say) adding it to wall cladding.

·       Secondly, the high cost of architectural glass leads to high costs for BIPV glass.  In NanoMarkets' forecasts, this translates into a large market in value terms for BIPV glass, even if the market in volume terms seems fairly modest; that is the number of BIPV glass projects around the world is not so large

Then finally, there is the whole question of the pricing of BIPV glass.  This is yet another open question.  At the current state of market evolution, where BIPV products are being sold primarily into the prestige building segment, we think that the market for BIPV glass is relatively price inelastic.  However, this is unlikely to remain the case as BIPV glass becomes a bigger part of high-end "green" building products.  Novel pricing strategies will then become the order of the day.

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