Building-integrated photovoltaics: Solar Power, With Style

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Photovoltaics aren’t just functional anymore; now they’re fabulous. Production has gone aesthetic as initial U.S. small scale manufacturing of shingles, tiles and different building materials with internally sealed photovoltaic cells has commenced. Of course they’re further along the trend in Europe than in the U.S.—largely due to government subsidies— where building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPVs) already make up around 3 to 4 percent of the total solar market, but it’s all foretelling: a demand signal for maximally seamless renewable architectural themes in both commercial and residential construction.

Instead of traditional fixed panel installations or add-on fixtures like solar panels, the new BIPVs will be available in varying colors and shapes and will “fit in” with a larger design theme—for example, that of he traditional curved clay roofing tiles of Southern California pictured here.

Several cross geographical U.S. firms are in the mix but some domestic early movers along one highlighted value chain poised to bring this construction technology to market appear to be these: United Solar Ovonic of Rochester Hills, MI supplies flexible solar modules to SRS Energy of Philadelphia; SRS bonds silicon cells to its curved Sole tiles for sale through firms like U.S Tile of Corona, CA.

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