BIPV: A new business opportunity for solar players

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With the use of solar energy gaining momentum in India, technology is advancing fast and innovative products and concepts are being developed faster, giving rise to new business potential for solar players. A new solar application, which is based on building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) technology, is now being used in India, and companies like Moser Baer Solar Ltd and Tata BP Solar have commissioned projects based on this technology.

By Richa Chakravarty

Wednesday, May 11, 2011: Cost effective solution

BIPV technology is cost effective, as instead of conventional material one can use solar panels to build ones home, office or other commercial buildings. This technology integrates PV modules into the building envelope such as the roof, facade or the glass panels. These solar panels can simultaneously serve as building envelope material and as a power generator, saving materials and electricity costs, as well as reducing the use of fossil fuels and emission of ozone depleting gases.

Although the solar panels are more expensive than the materials commonly used in construction of buildings, but by avoiding the cost of the conventional building materials, the incremental cost of PV modules is reduced. “Also, BIPV systems often have lower costs than PV systems, as they do not require dedicated, mounting systems,” says KN Subramaniam, chief executive, PV systems business, Moser Baer Solar Ltd.

BIPV solar panels may cost 25-30 per cent more than glass panels, but over the years this cost will be recovered as these panels will also generate power for the building.

Moser Baer has recently used this technology and converted the exterior façade of the Jubilee Hills shopping complex in Hyderabad into solar panels and erected a 1.8 kWp solar application. The company is leading the Indian BIPV journey because of design team capacity. “These panels will generate electricity to meet the power requirements in the shopping complex,” says KN Subramaniam.

Tata BP Solar has also used BIPV technology at the Samudra Institute of Maritime Studies in Pune. This will satisfy the institute’s power requirements internally, mitigating the problems of erratic and poor quality of power supply.

“PV applications are no longer standalone solar panels, but could be a combination of sun and structures that lead to opportunities to convert windows, exteriors and other integrated applications into solar panels in a commercially viable manner. This thin film module system will help in increasing the utilisation of solar energy as a mainstream source of energy,” informs KN Subramaniam.

Promising future

BIPV is a part of the PV industry but due to its possible usage as a building product, it is also seen as part of the ‘green building’ movement. While the green building concept is firmly established in countries like Japan and Korea, and is rapidly gaining momentum in China, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, it will take some more time to become popular in India.

According to a report, the global market of BIPV was valued at 1201 MW in 2010, and is expected to increase at a 56 per cent CAGR to reach a capacity of 11,392 MW in 2015. In India, Moser Baer is implementing four BIPV projects in the near future. Also a growing demand for energy, pollution concerns, unviable fossil fuel-based energy generation options, and aggressive National Solar Mission goals would all help to make BIPV popular, giving rise to a potential market for the solar industry.

Electronics Bazaar, South Asia’s No.1 Electronics B2B magazine

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