An urgent need exists for increased options for energy efficiency and power generation in commercial buildings and urban centers. With the green building, non-residential market growing from $25 billion in 2008 to almost $60 billion in 2011, the architecture, engineering and construction sectors are demanding new, innovative products to help them capitalize on this trend, which is expected to grow to $114 billion by 2015, according to McGraw-Hill Construction. The best green building products will allow them to design more sustainable, appealing buildings with architectural design benefits that will increase real estate value and move them towards net zero buildings (NZB).
Unlike traditional Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) panels, BIPV glass is a photovoltaic glazing solution that replaces a conventional glazing product with one that simultaneously serves multiple purposes – improves the energy efficiency of traditional construction while generating electricity and providing an aesthetically appealing appearance. The BIPV market is one of the fastest growing segments in the solar industry with current revenues of $1.5 billion expected for 2012, according to a NanoMarkets report. BIPV glass takes advantage of the limitless square footage of building facades.
As a result of highly effective energy efficiency, BIPV glass lowers the amount of energy consumed by minimizing solar heat gained and thereby demands on HVAC systems. Advanced BIPV glass solutions have the capacity to transform the buildings that use 70% of power plant generated electricity, into NZB with up to 4.6 GW of BIPV installations forecast through 2017, according to Pike Research.
However, for BIPV glass to truly achieve its potential, it needs to deliver more than just energy efficiency or solar power generation in isolation. It needs to extend its advantages and offer low solar heat gain, high power density and optimized daylighting, in combination. This reduces the need for artificial light, making for more comfortable and productive work and living environments, while at the same time generating clean energy. If BIPV can promise this complete triple value and also offer design flexibility and a quick return on investment, it can enable true change and NZB. Traditionally, architects, building developers and owners looking for value-add architectural glass products had to choose between BIPV products and various energy efficient window solutions. There were limited options that are easy to install and deliver all of the benefits listed above. But, if BIPV can achieve mainstream adoption by providing these benefits simultaneously, the industry has the potential to grow to $6.4 billion by 2016, according to NanoMarkets.
Beyond this, even if advanced BIPV technologies are available, providers still need to convince the notoriously conservative construction industry of their reliability. Innovative solutions have consistently suffered from an uphill battle to achieving mass market adoption. However, if clean tech innovators can partner with leading global manufacturers of advanced glazing products, together they could create supply chain efficiencies and deliver a product with vast potential, truly viable for wide adoption. Providing unmatched attributes, significant economic benefits and an easy, trusted path to market, BIPV glass is set to transform how buildings are designed and built, making NZB a closer reality on a mass scale.
By: Udi Paret, VP Business Development, Pythagoras Solar