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Legislation key to integrated photovoltaics growth

21st February 2013


A recent Frost & Sullivan report shows that the European Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) market in 2007 was estimated at €143 million with a total installed capacity of 25.7 MW for the commercial, residential, industrial and public markets combined.

Currently, there is substantial amount of interest in this market due to its high year on year growth, as well as an increasing number of countries which now have legislation supporting BIPV technology. 

The key to understanding BIPV market hot spots is pinpointing the countries that have passed BIPV-friendly legislation. It is no secret that the countries with this kind of legislation have seen the most growth. Led by Germany, and followed by Italy, France and Spain, these markets in particular are ripe for investment.

The link between geographic hotspots and legislation is noted by Frost & Sullivan Akhil Sivanandan, Research Analyst, who says: “The common factor to all the best regions for investment in BIPV has been the level of legislative support. These regions have high levels of legislative support for BIPV, usually through feed-in tariffs, although easy availability of loans, solar PV ordinances and other such supportive legislations are also important to grow and sustain the market.  Manufacturers have traditionally gravitated towards such regions.”

Right now the largest market for BIPV in Europe is the German market. In 1999 the country began to promote BIPV technology through its 100,000 programme. By guaranteeing feed-in tariffs and interest free loans, the German market developed more quickly than other markets, securing in 2004 the position of the largest PV market in the world. Because of its early focus on BIPV, the country currently has a high level of expertise among BIPV installers, designers, architects and manufacturers, accompanied by a high level of awareness among the end consumers. Recent amendments in Germany’s renewable energy act, the EEG (Erneuerbare Energien Gesetz) ensures that Germany will remain one of the largest markets for BIPV in the world.

Although it took a few more years for the French to pick up speed, by 2006 their BIPV specific feed-in tariffs were introduced, catapulting the country into hotspot status for manufacturers. Just a year after this legislation was enacted, the French market has grown into the second largest market for BIPV in Europe. However because it is still a relatively new market, establishing a strong manufacturing and consumer base will be vital.  Currently, BIPV manufacturers are pressed to meet the steep demands within the country.  The French BIPV market is also suffering from a lack of expertise for BIPV, especially in design and installation.

At one point the Italian market was projected to the BIPV leader, given the country’s excellent climate conditions and high investment capability, however, slow bureaucracy has leashed its growth. The lack of specific tariffs in Italy was barring BIPV progress, until 2007 when the market was advanced by the introduction of the ‘Conto Energia’ laws which granted very high feed-in tariffs for BIPV, and a clear cut definition for a BIPV installation. Since then the market has grown more rapidly. Despite Italy’s continual slow and complicated bureaucratic process, this market is expected to continue its high growth rate in the coming years.

Couched between France and Italy, the BIPV trend spread to Spain. The Spanish BIPV market took off in 2004, as it was so closely related to Spain’s already established open-field PV market. Although the PV market created a back door for the BIPV market, the Spanish BIPV market has experienced less growth than the general PV market.  This is not a surprise as the PV market has been around much longer and thus is more developed.  But the tide is set to change at the end of 2008, when the Spanish government is ready to revise its tariffs for PV, giving higher importance to BIPV and scaling down its open-field PV tariffs. This will give preference to BIPV among both consumers and manufacturers from the mid 2009 onwards when the tariffs are to come into effect.

As it stands, Germany, France, Italy and Spain have the stronger BIPV markets in Europe and are paving the way for European BIVP expansion. Countries such as Greece, Portugal and Switzerland are moving in the same direction.  Although still in the preliminary stages, these markets are something for investors to keep their eyes on as they are emerging into potential BIPV hotspots.

For more information, visit www.frost.com






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