Sunshine Superman

After reading a March news item about a solar demonstration project in Chicago, I made a note to find more data about its market potential.  Seems the tallest building in the U.S. (once the tallest in the world) is a test site for retrofit of solar power converting window modules.  As reported by InfoGreenGlobal the building ultimately could house window units comparable to a 10-acre spread of solar panels, with impressive total output up to 2 MW. 

 Pythogoras Solar, the provider of the system, appears to be a tri-continent (Israel, U.S. and China) start-up working on building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) systems.  The company web site doesn’t provide a lot of details (like what impact the PV units may have on building engineering), but it looks like nicely executed technology.  The company’s systems approach is an elegant solution to the issues of location and efficiency in deployment of PV systems.

How big is the opportunity? This week, an email from industry watchers at Pike Research showcased a prediction that the BIPV segment will reach at least $4 billion in annual wholesale revenue by 2016 (and maybe $5.6 billion). 

When I started writing about then very expensive solar and other renewable sources back in the mid-1980s, prevailing wisdom held that cost-practical systems were decades away. It seems like those forecasts are finally panning out.  Successful conversion of older structures and a new-build market for BIPV would have major impact on energy use.  Bring it on.